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— Long-range improvements are planned, including expansion of the port at San Ysidro and construction of a new port two miles east of the port at Otay Mesa.

The projects seem to be gaining ground. Ramon Riesgo, project director for the U.S. General Services Administration, is working on the $577 million project at San Ysidro. He hopes to begin construction next year.

Riesgo says the San Ysidro project’s first two phases will alleviate most of the current wait times. Phase one will add more booths in the primary inspection area, implementing a “two-tier” system wherein two inspection booths in each of the 24 lanes will be operational at the same time. During the first two phases, the old facility will be demolished in stages and a new facility built, including primary and secondary inspection areas, a pedestrian inspection area and bridge, an employee parking structure, and an administration building.

The third and final phase, and the most ambitious, will reroute southbound traffic. Beginning in 2012, I-5 south will be realigned west to Virginia Avenue, where Mexico plans to replace El Chaparral, its now-defunct truck checkpoint facility, with a new port of entry and a new road for the traffic to meet up. The Mexican government has pledged its cooperation, though Riesgo says that a project of this size and cost should always have some flexibility.

Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, or Otay 2, is also in the works. The State of California will build the new port, as well as a 2.7-mile toll road leading to it. State Route 11 will originate at the SR 125/905 interchange. On the other side of the border, the road will turn into the proposed Tijuana 2000 Bypass Highway in Baja California and will link up to the Tijuana-Tecate and Tijuana-Ensenada toll roads.

On September 30, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill, sponsored by Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, authorizing SANDAG to collect tolls on the new road. “The fees would be used to pay for environmental studies, project design and construction of the East Otay Mesa Port and SR 11,” wrote Moreno Ducheny in an email.

The completion date for each project is still at least six years out.

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Comments

Michael Hemmingson Nov. 12, 2008 @ 12:57 p.m.

If you cross a lot, I have found, you can figure out when the busy times are, which are in the morning when people are going to work or school in the U.S., and mid-afternoon when the morning tourists are coming back. Ditto Sunday and Monday morning. I have been in the two hour lines, and I have crossed with no lines in five minutes. The buses are worth $5 so you don't have to stand on your feet and in the sun or rain. Some of the shuttles for $10 will take you to the Otay border, where the line is usually less long, and then the shuttle will pick you up and take you back to San Ysidro -- unless the shuttle driver decides he doesn't feel like it, then you're out of luck and have to spend $15 on a cab.

There are guys you can pay $10 who will slip you to the front of the line, or you can find someone who will take 5-10 to let you cut in front of them -- if the TJ or US uniforms see this, though, they may send you back to the back.

There are also a good amount of bullies who just push their way to the front.

Summers seem to be the worst, la linea is always long by foot or car. People are hot and irritated and there's the occasional fist fight among the overheated and overly macho.

The good citizens of TJ, of course, like it when the lines are long, because there is money to be made -- sodas and churros and water are sold, buses and shuttles are packed, the duty free stores along the walkway do more business.

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bigfish92672 Dec. 29, 2008 @ 5:56 p.m.

The problem is not too few lanes or too few border crossings. If I get there at three am and 4 out of 22 lanes are open with a 1 hour wait, the problem is too few inspectors. Typically this is the case. At 4 am, 2 more lanes open, still a 1 hour wait. People who don't want the wear and tear and fuel cost from the 1 hour of stop-and-go will park their car in front of a closed lane and sleep for 1 hour until 5 am when Customs goes to 19 of 22 lanes open. Waits during rush hour are always greater than 1 hour. On weekends, multiply all the wait times by 2.

It's hard to imagine Oprah or Rush Limbaugh coming back home in their private jets from a weekend in the Bahamas to a 2-4 hour Customs line.....or any first class passengers, who are always first off the plane. I fly coach and my US Customs wait is typically less than 15 minutes. Customs knows that if they made our pampered elite wait in line for 4 hours, they'd be hearing about it, fast. But a bunch of ATV riders, partiers, shoppers and Mexican workers are not going to squawk about it.

But they should. Because there is no way this policy of under-manning the border is going to change without enough people raising hell about it. The Govinator is building his toll road to a undermanned Customs station in Timbuktoo. The GAO is paving over parking to build search lanes that won't be used. Not until they budget for more inspectors.

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favod Jan. 4, 2009 @ 4:41 a.m.

I understand that many people approach the San Ysidro crossing on the far right crossing area. I think there is access from a street that originates near the Plaza Rio shopping center. Most of the traffic originates from the Avenida Revolucion area and creates a huge bottleneck. Perhaps the reason for making the crossing not too efficient is protective. If a person has bad intentions, maybe the agents at the border would rather have him/her sit at the border for an hour or two and get real anxious about crossing so that they can spot them easier.

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