Por Pablo Jaime Sáinz
You could say that the new South Bay Expressway, which opens on Monday, November 19, is going to be a traffic blessing for commuters that currently use Interstate 805.
According to Caltrans, the South Bay Expressway, which extends from the SR-54 in Spring Valley through eastern Chula Vista to the Otay Mesa Road/SR-905 intersection near the Otay Mesa Border Crossing, will decrease traffic from 20 to 25 percent off the 805.
On Saturday, November 17, there will be a huge celebration of the grand opening of the South Bay Expressway at the Otay Ranch Town Center starting at 8 a.m..
Joaquin Luken, business development representative for South Bay Expressway, said that the new toll-road’s number one benefit will be the saving in time that it will represent for commuters, businesses, and tourists, on the eastside.
“It’s going to save you time, it’s going to save you money, it’s going to save you from being stressed out in traffic,” said Luken, who has spent the past months promoting and inviting businesses in Otay Mesa to sign-up for a special program for companies to use the new toll-road.
The South Bay Expressway, which has been on the plans since 1959 but began construction four years ago, mainly because of funding, will be free of charge to everybody for the first two weeks of service. There’s also a program where, if you sign-up in advance for the pre-paid FasTrack system, you’ll get to use the toll-road for free until January 13.
South Bay Expressway is a “user-pay” road-a toll road rather than a taxpayer-funded road. It is financed, built, operated and maintained with tolls collected from the people who choose to use it to save time and reduce stress in their daily lives.
The fees will vary depending on the length of your trip. There won’t be any cashiers at the tollbooth, instead, you will insert coins or bills in case you don’t have the FasTrack card. If you don’t pay and decide to use the road anyway, cameras will take pictures and sensors of your car. Then you’d get a citation.
The road operates as a toll road for 35 years, at which time the state takes ownership and can decide whether it remains a toll road.
“There’s people out there using the 805 who have told me, ‘I’ll pay anything, but get me there faster and with less traffic,’” Luken said.
The road cost $635 million and it will be operated by California Transportation Ventures, Inc.
The company has eagerly been promoting the South Bay Expressway among Latino communities in San Diego as well as in the City of Tijuana. It even launched a Spanish-language website with information on the expressway.
“We’re excited about our new Spanish-language Web site. South Bay Expressway is truly an international road,” said Greg Hulsizer, CEO of California Transportation Ventures, Inc., owner and operator of South Bay Expressway. “Our customers will now be able to use South Bay Expressway to get directly from Mexico to Otay Mesa and eastern Chula Vista, rather than taking the roundabout route they are forced to today via SR-905 and I-805.”
The state-of-the-art road, San Diego’s most significant transportation project in more than a decade, creates a direct route to and from eastern Chula Vista and Mexico as well as providing access to communities such as La Mesa, Spring Valley, Mission Valley and La Jolla. No matter where in greater San Diego you’re traveling, South Bay Expressway allows you to escape from gridlock and enjoy a fast, reliable connection.
For more information, visit www.southbayexpressway.com.