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Traffic Studies Predict Border Waits to Enter Mexico

Audio

Aired 7/6/09

San Diego traffic studies and traffic jams in one Texas border town both predict back-ups at the San Ysidro border crossing starting late this month. As KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson explains, that's when Mexican officials say they'll begin screening all cars headed into Mexico.

San Diego traffic studies and traffic jams in one Texas border town both predict back-ups at the San Ysidro border crossing starting late this month. As KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson explains, that's when Mexican officials say they'll begin screening all cars headed into Mexico.

Mexican customs officials say screening should ideally take eight seconds per car.

In practice, city officials in Nuevo Laredo -- that's the Mexican town across the border from Laredo, Texas -- say the process takes about ten seconds.

Nuevo Laredo's mayor says that's triple the time it takes to cross into Mexico.

Nuevo Laredo city councilman Jose Bautista says traffic really backs up during rush hour and on weekends.

"During peak times, the wait can be an hour and forty five minutes. He says people who cross daily are the ones who complain most." (Translated from Spanish.)

In San Diego, an estimated 47-thousand people cross south through the San Ysidro Port of Entry to Tijuana every day.

Pedro Orso directs the California Department of Transportation in San Diego.

He says inspections any longer than 8 seconds at San Ysidro will cause traffic.

He says 10 seconds...like in Nuevo Laredo…

"That would increase the crossing time to about two to two-and-a-half hours between the hours of 3-7 p.m. And it would take about two hours, also, to dissipate that cue, all the way to about 8 p.m."

Orso says in that worst case scenario, cars would back up on the 5 freeway to J Street and on the 805 to Telegraph Canyon Road.

He predicts people will change their border crossing habits if it gets to that point. Orso says they'll look for alternatives and some may say its just not worth it.

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