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Comprehensive Borders Projects

Impacts of Border Delays at California-Baja California Ports of Entry

In April 2016, SANDAG, in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Imperial County Transportation Commission (ICTC), began a study called A Fresh Look at Impacts of Border Delays at California-Baja California Land Ports of Entry.

Building upon previous studies and data collected in the California-Mexico border region, this study will assess the economic and air quality/climate impacts caused by border delays at California-Baja California ports of entry (POEs): San Ysidro-El Chaparral, Otay Mesa-Mesa de Otay, Tecate-Tecate, Calexico West-Mexicali I, Calexico East-Mexicali II, and Andrade-Los Algodones. The study is scheduled to be completed in May 2018.

The main tasks of this study include:

• Conduct surveys/interviews at California-Baja California POEs

• Collect border wait time data

• Develop and implement an outreach plan for both economic and air quality/climate

• Estimate economic and air quality/climate impacts of border delays

• Develop study recommendations


In 2006, SANDAG, in partnership with Caltrans released the Economic Impacts of Border Wait Times Study, an extensive effort to estimate economic impacts of border delays on the binational economy at San Diego-Baja California land POEs. The study looked at productivity, industry competitiveness, and lost business income at the regional, state, and national levels for the United States and Mexico. Due to infrastructure limitations, crossborder congestion and delays approaching two hours or longer for personal trips and goods movement. Study findings estimated that the effects of border crossing delay cost $7.2 billion in foregone gross output and more than 62,000 jobs in both the U.S. and Mexico economies in 2007.

In 2012, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Imperial County Transportation Commission (ICTC) completed the Goods Movement Border Crossing Study and Analysis to gather and synthesize information on goods movement through the Imperial County-Baja California land POEs. For commercial and passenger vehicles at the Calexico West and Calexico East land POEs, the study estimated total output losses of more than $620 million in California and nearly $630 million in Baja California. The combined losses total $1.25 billion for California and Baja California's economies in 2012. Similarly, more than 4,800 jobs in California and approximately 3,900 jobs in Baja California were not created due to border delays in 2012.

Study Progress

An Assessment of Existing “Gaps” on Border Data (including Wait Times) was conducted to identify data collection needs focusing on economic, emissions, and border crossing wait time information as well as traffic and volume data. A Border Wait Time Technologies and Information Systems White Paper was developed to assess current methods and existing platforms that use technology to collect and disseminate border wait time data to the public.

The Emissions Outreach Plan provides an overview of tasks related to air quality/climate impacts and the framework for the emissions peer review roundtable conducted in February 2017. Roundtable participants included federal, state, and local air quality agencies, academics, federal border inspection agencies, and other public agencies. Input was received on the proposed methods and data involved in the emissions analysis for the study.

The Economic Outreach Plan includes a similar peer review element to solicit input from economists, economic development councils and stakeholder groups on the proposed methods and data inputs for measuring economic impacts. Two economic peer review panels were convened in April 2017 with participation from subject matter experts as well as relevant stakeholders. To understand how businesses involved in cross-border industries are impacted by border wait times, interviews with individual businesses also have been conducted.

The Survey Methodology and Plan includes the survey questionnaires used to collect field data relevant to the economic and emissions analysis. To gather a robust field data sample, three “waves” of surveys were conducted at different times of the year at the six POEs. The intercept survey dataset, which consists of more than 10,000 survey responses, has been analyzed and a summary of the significant economic and air quality metrics is included in the Summary of At-Border Data Collection Results.

Project Manager

Elisa Arias, Principal Regional Planner
Phone: (619) 699-1936, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or