Drivers coming north from Tijuana through the San Ysidro Port of Entry this week have been struggling to figure out the new route to the SENTRI lanes — a route that hasn't worked well for a few days.
"What's the point of paying for a SENTRI pass to get across quickly when I'm sitting for two hours in the READY lane and I can't even get across?" a driver complained.
On Monday, people headed north found traffic had been rerouted with the goal of speeding up crossing — but without sufficient notice or adequate signs for people to figure out the new route.
"People were driving in circles and then stopping to talk to cops in the middle of the street," said Jill Holslin, who crosses the border most days. "It was confusing and chaotic."
There are three levels of crossing both by vehicle and on foot: standard; READY lane for people with electronically chipped identification (usually passport cards); and the Secure Electronic Network Travelers Rapid Inspection, or SENTRI lanes.
For vehicles, San Ysidro usually has near-equal numbers of lanes assigned to each type. (At this writing, there are five standard, six READY and five SENTRI lanes.)
On Wednesday, March 5, Tijuana authorities hung a SENTRI sign over the READY lane sign, pointing drivers at least closer to the SENTRI lane. But drivers who paid the feds a fee of $135 and underwent an extensive background check to get the pass are instead being funneled to the READY lane, where waits are almost as long as the lanes for the general public.
Access to the northbound SENTRI lane is now through Blvd. Padre Kino instead of Avenida Internacional. That means drivers following their usual route have to cross all the northbound wait lanes to get from the west side to the east side — or double back a half mile to start over.