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SENTRI pass border-crossers frustrated

Route change and lack of signage creates clusterfunk

SENTRI lane (at Otay Mesa crossing)
SENTRI lane (at Otay Mesa crossing)

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.

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SENTRI lane (at Otay Mesa crossing)
SENTRI lane (at Otay Mesa crossing)

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.

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Comments
4

SENTRI and READY are just two gimmicks by the feds to squeeze more money out of the folks crossing into the US. I cross regularly by foot using the GENERAL PUBLIC lane and I see the frustration on the faces of those in the other two lanes. Sometimes I cross faster. If the feds really wanted to speed up the process they would utilize more of the officers who are standing around with their arms folded when you enter. Or maybe they shouldn't waste so many agent hours by placing half a dozen agents and a dog at the Mexico entrance. All I ever see them doing is profiling us.

March 7, 2014

There's an additional angle to this, John. The budget of the border-keepers gets increased when they promise that more dollars will result in shorter border wait times. It's just a game, played at the expense of those of us who need to cross. Nothing will change, regardless.

March 7, 2014

What I want to know is why the agents who act like the biggest a-holes never seem to be wearing a name tag. II once asked a particularly crude agent what his name was and he said to call him officer. Hell of a way to treat a fellow American.

March 8, 2014

I got a SENTRI pass last year, and I'm glad I did. I was able to cross the border in about 30 minutes rather than waiting 2-3 hours to get back in. But the route to the SENTRI pass lane was insane. We got details from a relative before heading in our car for the drive back, and it was essentially a zigzag of of U-turns and illegal left turns to get to the right place.

March 11, 2014

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