AJO, Ariz. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District participated in a ceremony Nov. 27 to cut the ribbon at the new Customs and Border Patrol Agency's Ajo Station.
“The new station is the strong, solid platform, for our customer’s people - Border Patrol agents. It provides the tools and infrastructure to allow the agents to much more effectively accomplish their mission,” said Shari Brandt, resident engineer for the District’s Tucson Resident Office. “I’m so proud to be able to be here for this ribbon cutting. Projects like this really showcase our commitment to our motto of ‘Building Strong and Taking Care of People!’”
The new facility covers more than 30 acres and contains more than 54,000 sq feet of working space. Buildings at the new station include an administrative and training facility, a detention area and fueling stations for the vehicles assigned there. The agents also have a helipad on the new facility.
“This is truly a remarkable occasion for the CBP and for the Ajo Station,” said Jack Jeffreys, patrol agent in charge of the Ajo Station. “The old facility was designed for 25 agents and we have more than 500 personnel here now.”
The original Ajo station, which was completed in 1987, still stands next to the new facility. The new $30 million project is designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standard. In order to meet that standard, D.L. Withers Construction, the District’s contractor, installed low-water use utilities, used recycled and rapidly-renewable materials, energy-saving lighting, native drought-resistant plantings, solar heated hot water, and photo-voltaic panels on all buildings and covered parking.
“This facility takes advantage of what we have plenty of here in Arizona – the sun,” Jeffreys said. “Approximately 35 percent of the energy for the facility comes from the sun and we’re using solar energy to heat the water.”
The station was designed to meet LEED Silver standards as a minimum. Through a few additional steps during construction, the team was able to pursue enough points to submit for LEED Gold. The final submittal will be done after the final Commissioning report is completed in December, but members of the team are very confident in achieving LEED Gold. Photo-voltaic panels on most of the roofs provide power for the facility and for the water heaters. The power feeds back into the Arizona Power Supply grid so the Ajo station essentially reduces its year-round demand on APS.
“The Tucson Sector of CBP is one of the most active in the nation,” Brandt said. “This project provides a modern, sustainable facility from which Border Patrol agents can accomplish the mission of protecting our nation’s border.”
The Ajo Station is approximately nine miles south of Ajo, along State Route 85. According to the CBP, the area of responsibility for agents assigned there covers more than 64 miles along the international border and nearly 7,000 square miles of total operational area. The majority of the AOR covers environmentally sensitive or otherwise protected lands, including the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Land Management lands, Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range, and Tohono O’Odham Nation.
“For the men and women of the Ajo Station, this new facility has been a long time coming and they deserve it,” said Jose Cruz, acting deputy chief patrol agent for the Tucson Sector. “And so the mission continues.”