by Alexandra Mendoza
A new highway project in Otay Mesa seeks to relieve border congestion for both vehicles and trucks.
This week, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) broke ground on a highway connector project that will directly link SR-905 and the future SR-11 to northbound 125.
Currently, vehicles and trucks entering the U.S. through Otay Mesa must travel through circuitous and congested local roads to access SR-125. The new project will provide a seamless highway system, benefitting the thousands of people crossing northbound through this East County Port of Entry (POE).
With it, authorities seek to boost the region’s economic growth and address the losses caused by border delays.
“Time is money, as any truck driver will tell you”, stated Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce Director Alejandra Mier y Teran. “We hear it from manufacturing companies and business groups, their biggest concern is logistics costs”.
The more we expedite commerce, “the more companies will set theri sights on our region, which will lead to more jobs,” indicated Ms. Mier y Teran.
Every year, the border region loses more than $7 billion and 62,000 jobs due to the long border delays. Wait times for trucks bringing good into the U.S. can be as long as 2-4 hours.
This connectors project will also provide links to the planned Otay Mesa East POE via SR-11, with Phase 1 (from SR-905 East to Enrico Fermi Drive) expected to open to traffic by the end of this year.
“This project is part of our broader vision for the overall roadway network from Otay East POE. We continue moving forward with this project, we are already in land acquisition negotiations and having discussions with the Mexican government”, expressed Mario Orso, Director of Intermodal Projects at CALTRANS, in reference to the progress for this new Port of Entry.
Over the past 20 years, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has grown by an average of ten percent each year, a rate that exceeds that of U.S. trade with the rest of the world, according to data provided by SANDAG.
In 2014, more than 800,000 northbound trucks and $39 billion in goods crossed the border through the Otay Mesa Cargo Port of Entry.
“This is an important trade corridor, and together we are moving forward toward our vision for a safe, secure, efficient, and integrated transportation system that will bolster the economy on both sides of the border”, shared Laurie Berman, Director of Caltrans District 11.
The connectors project for the three state highways is estimated to cost $21.5 million and is expected to be completed in late 2016.