Now Entering Mexico — But First, Turn Right
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Aired 10/25/12 on KPBS News.
Cars leaving San Diego and entering Tijuana are finding the exit from the U.S. doesn't line up with the entrance to Mexico.
SAN DIEGO Mexico and the U.S. have been working to expand the capacity the busiest border crossing in the world -- between San Diego and Tijuana.
Wednesday, the Mexican government opened a new set of southbound entry lanes designed to funnel more cars into Tijuana more efficiently than its existing infrastructure.
But using them isn't as easy as the Mexican government would have hoped. The U.S. Congress hasn't yet appropriated funding for southbound Interstate 5 -- which ends at the existing entrance to Mexico -- to be re-routed to this new entrance several hundred meters to the west.
And so a temporary solution has been put in place. When the existing entry lanes close for good, as they're expected to next week, cars entering Mexico will have to make a sharp right turn just before reaching the border. They'll turn onto five lanes that run westbound along the border fence, to the gleaming new gateway to Tijuana that the Mexican government has dubbed "El Chaparral."
Because of that steep right turn, officials on both sides have been concerned there may be long delays to get into Mexico during peak crossing times.
That's something motorists will have to endure until the interstate is finally rerouted, currently scheduled for completion in 2016.