ANTELOPE WELLS (AP) — A new $15 million outpost to house U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents in southern New Mexico is a year behind schedule because federal planners failed to make sure the local power co-op could provide enough electricity.
Customs and Border Patrol agents have been running the port of entry on the New Mexico-Mexico border at Antelope Wells out of trailers.
Because the project grew and grew, it wasn't until final construction plans were in place that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers realized the facilities would need more than twice the amount of power the old system used, said Tom Plummer, who now heads up the project for the Corps. KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports (http://bit.ly/RuCIxL ) that was more than the power line running to the buildings could supply.
KRQE-TV reports the Corps had to request a line upgrade from the Columbus Electric Co-Op in Deming but couldn't figure out a way around its own bureaucracy to sign the simple agreement, so the project languished for months until another federal agency stepped in and solved the problem.
"I think we've done as well as we could with the situation at hand," said Tom Plummer, who now heads up the project for Corps.
But Chris Martinez, the co-op's executive vice president and general manager, said the application process for line upgrades is straightforward.
"Individuals navigate their way through our process," Martinez said. "So it's not a complicated process."
The line is now being built after a year delay and the outpost is expected to open early next year.
The delay added an extra $500,000 to the project's $15.6 million price tag.
The Antelope Wells facility was a tiny cinderblock outpost. The new facility features an 11,000-square-foot building, as well as a 5,000-square-foot forward operating base for the Border Patrol.
The new facilities are meant to provide more law enforcement presence along the border.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., initially touted the project in 2009 as a way to "take aggressive action to combat the flow of guns and drugs across the border." Three years later, Bingaman said he's not happy about the delay but is glad it's back on track.
"I am disappointed that they don't yet have electricity, the electrical hook-up that they need for the permanent facilities," he said.