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New Port of Entry and Highways Coming to Otay Mesa

September 9, 2016

By Marinee Zavala IMG_5035

The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) recently announced the arrival of close to $100 million dollars for the construction of connectors for State Route 125 and State Route 11. The third phase of these projects would connect the highways to one of the most ambitious projects between the U.S. and Mexico to date: The Otay Mesa East Port of Entry.

Mario Orso, Intermodal Project Director at CALTRANS, shared that the State had contributed $50 million to the SR-125 connectors project, and that the federal government intended to fund an additional $50 million, with “which SR-11 would be fully funded”, he said.

The first phase of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project started back in 2013 with the SR-11 project from SR-905 to Enrico Fermi Drive. The full plan – with an investment of more than $900 million – consists of three phases and, once completed, would culminate in a 20-lane Port of Entry between Tijuana and the United States.

The business sector has stated that not having an additional border crossing, such as Otay Mesa East, has already led to significant economic losses, among them an average of $7.2 billion in lost production and close to 62,000 jobs/year due to long border wait times and lack of efficiency for crossing products. “These are very important, and very positive news; we have long been in favor of this new Otay Mesa East project, since it would guarantee people who want to cross the border to be able to do so in 20 minutes. We don’t have that now,” stated Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Alejandra Mier y Teran.

Another piece of great news from the business sector was that the investment on the Mexican side of the Port of Entry “already has funding allocated for acquiring the land in Mexico, which is a hugely important step that was missing. This will yield in many benefits, such as competitiveness, more companies, and better quality of life for our workers,” added Mier y Teran.

The more than 1,200 businesses operating in Otay Mesa also eagerly await this project aimed at reducing border wait times, increasing vehicle flow, and even reducing wait times at other ports of entry in the region, where during the most recent U.S. holiday, northbound vehicles had to wait a minimum of 60 minutes to cross into Southern California.

Although the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry would charge a toll in exchange for the fast border-crossing times, the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce feels that the benefits this would yield would improve the flow of products and items needed by the different sectors, as well as attract companies that have been hesitant due to the uncertainty of the border wait to export their product to the U.S.

CALTRANS also spoke about the technologies they are planning to implement at the new Port of Entry, which they assure will be key for efficient and reliable cargo crossings “with smart technologies, roadway connections, reliable wait time measurements, and increased capacity that will make our region more attractive to trade,” said Mario Orso about the planned border crossing.

With the announcement of the funding for SR-125 and SR-11, the last segment of SR-11 should be ready by late 2018 or early 2019.

“Perhaps by 2020 or 2021 we’ll be inaugurating the New Otay Mesa East Port of Entry,” added Mario Orso.

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