SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Two decades in the making, lawmakers and dignitaries finally broke ground on a new port of entry, the fifth along the California-Mexico border.
Officials from both sides of the border attended Monday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry — or Otay II — which project engineers hope to finish in September 2024.
Mexico’s delegation included Baja California Gov. Marina del Pilar Ávila and Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero. They joined California’s lieutenant governor and secretary of transportation, as well as the mayor of San Diego.
This port of entry will be unique in that it will process both commercial and private vehicles through the same traffic lanes, although not at the same time.
If more trucks are crossing, more lanes will be dedicated to commercial trucks; if there are more private vehicles in line, more lanes will be opened for single vehicles.
Another feature is that crossing will operate on a toll system, and revenue will be shared between both countries as a way to recoup investment for the project. A toll structure has yet to be determined.
Proponents of the new crossing expect a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
“This project is also good for the environment,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “When you have these many cars idling for hours and hours at a time here at San Ysidro and Otay (two other crossings in area) that means emissions get into our atmosphere and it hurts our quality of life.”
Gloria said the region is already plagued by bad air quality, and he believes this will help.
“We can significantly reduce emissions in our border,” he said. “This is an area with high levels of asthma, there is poor air quality in communities like San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Tijuana.”
Otay II is also expected to improve the flow of goods and products between Mexico and the United States.
Gloria said it will generate even more commerce and jobs in the area.
“This is going to expand jobs on both sides of the border,” said Gloria. “In Otay Mesa what you see is tremendous amount of construction, large warehouse facilities that will employ thousands of San Diegans, they are choosing this location because this port of entry is coming and more will come when it’s complete in 2024.”