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December 20, 2019 1:45 PM, EST

GSA Completes Major Border Facility Project

Cars wait at the San Ysidro Land Port of EntryCars wait to cross at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry on June 27, 2013, in San Diego. Construction on a building is visible. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

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The General Services Administration recently completed a 10-year construction project at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, a bustling border crossing facility that links San Diego County and Tijuana, Mexico.

The $741 million project expanded and renovated the port complex, which facilitated crossings for 8.1 million pedestrians, 10.9 million personal vehicles and more than 29,000 buses in 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. GSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection held a ribbon-cutting to recognize the project’s completion Dec. 17.

“The new facility was constructed to increase the capacity for northbound inspections, to reduce travel times for cross-border travelers and to provide efficient and safe facilities for the traveling public and Customs and Border Protection,” Anthony Kleppe, Region 9 Land Port of Entry program manager for GSA, told Transport Topics.

Mexico trucks

Trucks coming from Mexico head through the California Highway Patrol Inspection Facility at the border in San Ysidro, Calif., on Dec 3, 2002. (Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News)

GSA’s Region 9, known as the Pacific Rim Region, spans from Window Rock, Ariz., to Seoul, South Korea.

Completed in three phases, the San Ysidro project involved reconstructing inspection areas, administration buildings and pedestrian facilities.

GSA and its partners also increased the number of lanes and inspection booths. According to GSA’s press release, there are now 63 northbound vehicle inspection booths and a dedicated bus lane dispersed across 34 lanes.

Kleppe said the completion of the project allows GSA to direct resources and attention to other projects, such as improvements to the nearby Otay Mesa LPOE. The San Ysidro LPOE stopped processing trucks in the 1980s, at which point commercial traffic in the area started funneling through the Otay Mesa LPOE. The Otay Mesa crossing station is located along state Route 905 in San Diego, about 9 miles east of San Ysidro.

Otay Mesa is a popular crossing point for truckers. The Otay Mesa LPOE cleared 718,658 trucks in 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

GSA’s efforts at the Otay Mesa LPOE will involve adding lanes and improving circulation for trucks moving through the facility. The Otay Mesa project is in the design phase. Kleppe said the estimated groundbreaking date is in fiscal 2020.

Anthony Kleppe, Region 9 Land Port of Entry program manager for GSA

Kleppe

“Currently, the No. 1 problem at Otay Mesa is that we have very difficult truck circulation,” Kleppe said. “This project will allow us to clean up the vehicular circulation within the commercial facility.”

GSA works with regional government agencies and counterparts in Mexico, several of which were represented at the ceremony. The San Diego Association of Governments estimates the region's current combined border population of 5.1 million will grow to almost 6.1 million by 2030.

“Investments made to expand the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry will help lift the San Diego-Tijuana megaregion to the next level,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “We’re already one of the busiest border crossings in the world, with thousands of goods and people crossing every day, and now we’ll be able to grow our economy even more to the benefit of people on both sides of the border. We couldn’t have done this without all of us working together to advocate at the federal level for the funding to get this across the finish line.”

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