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Rocky Point Port Could Be Completed In Public-Private Partnership

The beach at Puerto Peñasco
Puerto Peñasco city government
An aerial view of Puerto Peñasco.

Officials in the state of Sonora have long lobbied Mexico’s federal government for funding to build a port for cruise ships just 60 miles south of the Arizona border, and now they’re considering turning to the private sector to help complete the project.

Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich has been approached by at least one Mexican cruise ship company interested in partnering with the government to complete construction of the home part at Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, said Jorge Valdes, head of the city’s economic development office.

Officials overseeing the project expect to receive about $12 million from the federal government this spring to continue construction this year, Valdes said. It’s estimated at least $32 million more would be needed to complete the port, which would be about two-thirds of a mile long, by 2020. Any public-private partnership would have to be approved by the federal Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

"If that happens, the money will flow easier, and maybe we can anticipate an earlier completion," Valdes said.

Puerto Peñasco is about 200 miles southwest of Phoenix and Tucson, and Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a memorandum of understanding showing support for the project and referring to it as the "Port of Arizona."

Sonora officials have said the government has spent more than $40 million and that construction is more than 50 percent complete. Several cruise companies have shown interest in sailing from Puerto Peñasco for a cruise along the Sea of Cortes, seeking to attract tourists traveling from Arizona and the Mountain Southwest.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.