January 6, 2006

Sentri Lanes Expanding

By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan

It made life easier for thousands of commuters and now a new Sentri line has re-opened and another petition deadline has closed.

Following the successful example of the San Ysidro port of entry, the border between Mexicali and Calexico has added a new Sentri line to its crossing.

As of Thursday, December 29 a new express lane will bring a smile to thousands of drivers who commute from Mexico to the U.S.

Before this project became reality, local and federal governments from both countries collaborated to modify the city’s infrastructure. The roads were not yet apt for frequent commuters to have new lanes solely dedicated to them, but now they do. A ceremony aimed at making this new addition official will take place during the month of January 2006.

As of now, the scheduling of the Calexico Sentri lane will also undergo a trial period. It will be opened from 6:00am to 8:00pm Monday through Friday and on the weekends from 8:00am to 10:00pm.

If traffic begins to clog all lanes in the border, officials have said they will evaluate the possibility of extending the allotted times or of opening more lanes for the Sentri holders.

Meanwhile, in San Ysidro, the petition period for those seeking the pedestrian sentry program has ended. Now officials will determine if the trial period brings is successful. If so, it will again re-open a new time frame for pedestrians to apply for the express pass.

According to U.S consulate officials in Tijuana, close to 80 percent of commuters in the pedestrian program are students. The other 20 percent often cross the border for employment purposes.

Because of this, the schedules for this program are far more limited than the San Ysidro regular Sentri driving system. The pedestrian program is only in effect Monday through Friday from 5:00am to 9:00am and then it re-opens from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Users have to provide a technologically advanced ID that holds the personal information of the pedestrian. Then, the commuter passes through another monitor which reads and matches the facial features of the applicant.

The need for a pedestrian program became evident in August of 2004, when pedestrians would wait up to two hours to cross by foot. During that month, the trial period was established to make life easier for thousands of commuters.

To find out more information about the Sentri Programs and their scheduled times and application periods visit cbp.gov and click on travel.

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