continued 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.