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Border & Immigration

Mexico Expected To Hasten New Otay Border Crossing Construction

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Mexico Expected To Hasten New Otay Border Crossing Construction
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce says the Mexican government has agreed to prioritize the San Diego-Baja California border region's first toll-funded border crossing.

Mexico is expected to speed up construction on a toll-funded port of entry in Otay Mesa called Otay II in response to pressure from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber sent a delegation of close to 80 business and government leaders from both sides of the border to Mexico City this week. They asked Raul Murrieta, undersecretary of communications and transportation, to get things started on the border crossing project sooner rather than later.

A chamber official is concerned that election cycles could interfere with the project.

"If current elected officials leave office before the project is done, it does threaten the project possibly," said Paola Avila, executive director of the chamber's International Business Affairs Division.

The U.S. started construction on the first phase of the project more than a year ago. Mexico has yet to start acquiring the land needed to build.

Murrieta agreed to prioritize the project, Avila said.

After their meeting, Murrieta contacted the Tijuana mayor and the Baja California governor to ask them to hasten plans for Otay II.

"He recognized the need for urgency and expediency," Avila said.

The new port of entry will include lanes for both commercial and passenger vehicles.

Avila said it is expected to improve regional trade by lessening congestion at the border. The average wait for commercial trucks is three hours "on any given day at any given hour," she said.

According to the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, which is helping to lead the project on the U.S. side, that congestion costs the United States and Mexico about $7.2 billion in economic output each year.

But the chamber is concerned about competition for funds in Mexico at a time when the federal government is making budget cuts.

"It's really important to keep this project at the top of their minds to ensure that it does move forward," Avila said.

Last summer, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a memorandum of understanding with Mexican officials to form a binational oversight committee meant to expedite the project, but there were concerns that Mexico was falling behind.

Construction on the Mexico side is expected to begin next year. The port of entry is planned for completion in 2018.