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State Department Considering Cross-Border Pedestrian Bridge

A decision by the State Department is pending on whether to grant a presidential permit for a cross-border pedestrian bridge that would link Tijuana's Rodriguez International Airport to Otay Mesa, officials said today.

Stephanie Saathoff, who represents the private developer, Otay-Tijuana Venture LLC, said she is "cautiously optimistic'' that the permit will be granted, adding that a decision could come any day.

Last week, the State Department announced a finding of "no significant impact on the environment'' for the proposed project, a move Saathoff said was a necessary step before the presidential permit can be granted.

The project, which would still require various approvals by the Mexican government, calls for a 525-foot-long elevated pedestrian bridge that would cross the U.S.-Mexico border, linking the Tijuana airport to a passenger facility in San Diego's Otay Mesa.

Passengers would be allowed to park on the U.S. side of the border and access the terminals at the Tijuana airport. San Diego County travelers who now fly out of the Tijuana airport typically take a taxi or bus across the U.S. and Mexico border and back, which can be a lengthy process.

The for-profit project is being backed by Equity Group Investments, an investment company co-founded by billionaire Sam Zell, who owns the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Saathoff said the project is independent of any other proposals floated over the past decade for a cross-border link to the Tijuana airport.

Three years ago, a study commissioned by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority found that a cross-border terminal could be used by 629,000 San Diego passengers annually.

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