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Binational

State Route 11 and Otay Mesa East Port of Entry

SR

Increasing demand, insufficient capacity, and idling vehicles at existing border crossings in the San Diego-Baja California region cost the United States and Mexico billions of dollars in foregone economic output each year and have a major impact on air quality.

To address this problem, a binational, multi-agency group is working aggressively to expedite the construction of an innovative port of entry to reduce border wait times. The State Route 11 (SR 11)/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry (POE) Project in the United States will create a fast, predictable, and state-of-the-art port of entry serving both personal and commercial vehicles.

The lead project sponsors – SANDAG and Caltrans – are working with the U.S. and Mexican federal governments, in collaboration with local and state partners, to evaluate innovative concepts like flexible lanes, variable tolling, and joint inspections from the standpoint of efficiency, security, revenue potential, and cost effectiveness.

Project Need: Preparing for the Future

Mexico is California’s number one trading partner. To meet expected increased demand and reduce the impacts from idling vehicles at existing border crossings in the binational San Diego-Baja California “mega-region,” more transportation infrastructure investments are necessary. If not, it will cost the region, the United States, and Mexico billions of dollars in foregone economic output each year and have a major impact on air quality.

• Trade between the United States and Mexico has increased an average of eight percent each year
• More than 90 percent of California-Mexico trade is moved by truck
• Current wait times can exceed 120 minutes for passenger vehicles and 150 minutes for commercial vehicles

All levels of government on both sides of the border have invested heavily to improve the exchange of trade and commerce at the U.S.- Mexico border, and this project is a necessary piece of that investment.

With expected growth in trade and commerce, there will be an impact on air quality. The new POE will be clean, green, and smart. Reducing vehicle wait times and incorporating smart technologies will help reduce emissions and improve air quality in the border region.

Project Design

In the U.S., the project will integrate into the larger California Sustainable Freight Action Plan “Advanced Technology Corridors at Border Ports of Entry” pilot project, which will install this system at each California-Baja California POE.

On both sides of the border, the project will create a network for the POE system that incorporates the latest security technologies with evolving border policies and procedures, including intelligent transportation management strategies, and serve as a model for a safe, secure, and efficient 21st Century POE.

The vision for this 21st century border crossing includes:

• A new border wait time detection system with advanced traveler alert capabilities
• A system-wide approach to managing traffic congestion at the major ports of entry along the San Diego-Baja California border
• A variable tolling system that serves as both a revenue collection tool and a transportation demand management tool
• Approach roads on both sides of the border that integrate seamlessly with regional highway systems
• Partnership approaches to designing, financing, and building the project

Project Status

The project sponsors in the U.S. – SANDAG and Caltrans – are concurrently working with key partners from both the United States and Mexico to design, finance, and construct the Garita de Otay Mesa II /State Route 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project.

Under a plan approved in January 2012 by the California Transportation Commission (CTC), the U.S. portion of the project is being built in three segments. The first segment was completed and opened in 2016.

View the additional segments and future milestones for this project.

The project team continues to advance discussions with U.S. federal partners on how to fund the operations and maintenance of the new crossing on the U.S. side. SANDAG and Caltrans are also in the process of conducting a Traffic & Revenue Study to determine the best and most efficient facility size and layout for the new port of entry. This analysis will evaluate impacts of the project based on current and projected trade levels, crossing demand, traffic volumes, and optimizing the port of entry. The study is expected to be completed in 2019.

California and Mexico Border Region: A Binational Trade Mega-Region

The California/Baja California binational mega-region, made up of San Diego County, Imperial County, and the State of Baja California, is a unique region with a robust binational business environment. The mega-region is globally competitive because of the existing interdependent nature of its economies. In fact, the mega-region’s co-producing manufacturing supply chain alone accounts for $2.5 billion in trade and supports 566,000 jobs in California. With more than $42 billion in trade value crossing between the two countries in 2017 alone, a new reliable and predictable POE is essential to continuing this relationship. Bottlenecks at existing crossings in the region constrict the flow of people and freight, choking off economic opportunities. The 2007 Border Wait Time Economic Impact Study estimated $7.2 billion in foregone economic output.

Given this integral relationship, both the U.S. and Mexico are working together on the Otay Mesa East-Mesa de Otay II POE project to continue this two-way economic growth, create jobs for citizens on both sides of the border, and ensure that both nations can better compete globally.

Traffic and Revenue Study

In 2014, the first U.S.-Mexico binational Traffic & Revenue Study was completed to provide an estimate of the revenue-generating capacity of a new SR 11 Otay Mesa East-Mesa de Otay II Port of Entry.

Updating the 2014 Traffic & Revenue Study is a crucial step in understanding the issues involved in crossing the border, existing and future border demand, and travelers’ attitudes towards a new tolled POE.

So far, more than 1,500 passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and trucks – including key representatives from 100 companies, maquiladoras, transport companies, and agricultural product shippers – have been surveyed to update the model and assist in better defining who will use the new crossing and how much travelers would be willing to pay in tolls in order to save time.

This study will be conducted in the following phases:

• Phases 1 and 2:  Aug 2016 – April 2019
  - Shaped scenarios for tolls, traffic, revenue, and feasibility
  - Incorporated SANDAG Transportation model as the study platform with added complexities for the border region
• Comprehensive Investment-Grade Study: 2019
  - Official revenue numbers, used by bond rating agencies and investor, to evaluate financial return on the project

Overall, the updated Traffic & Revenue Study will help us to understand the existing and future demand at the border, how the new POE can relieve congestion and demand, and how we must value time at the crossings.

Intelligent Transportation Systems

As the U.S. and Mexico border region grows, there is a need to improve both private travel and the commercial movement of goods and services through an ef¬ficient, integrated system to bolster the local, state, federal and international economies. This project will meet these needs by providing fast, predictable, and secure crossings that connect directly to a new state-of-the-art POE serving both personal and commercial vehicles. The goal is to operate the new POE with an average border wait time of 20 minutes.

Wait time data collection, demand management, and system-wide advanced traveler information technologies will be installed to measure the progress of vehicles approaching the new POE. This data will inform border crossers about toll rates at the new Otay Mesa East POE, as well as border wait times, special lane conditions, and incidents at all regional POEs, so they can better plan their trips and select which POE best suits their needs.

Using the San Ysidro Port of Entry as a test site, the project team is currently monitoring and collecting border wait times on southbound traffic through WiFi technologies that accurately collect border wait time data. In addition, the successful San Ysidro pilot has set the stage for the next phases of team’s vision to deploy ITS technology across the entire California-Baja California border.

Project Videos

SR 11 / Otay Mesa East overview (English)
SR 11 / Otay Mesa East overview (Spanish)

SR 11 / Otay Mesa East highlights (English)
SR 11 / Otay Mesa East highlights (Spanish)

Newsletters

January 2013 - English | En Español
January 2012 - English | En Español

News Releases

July 2016 - San Diego Region to be Awarded $49 Million to Complete Border Freeway and Connectors
April 2016 - $13B in border infrastructure invested
October 2015 - SR 905/SR 125/SR 11 connectors project breaks ground

For More Information

Contact Tedi Jackson at tedi.jackson@sandag.org for more information or to be added to our email notification list.

Project Managers

Mario Orso, Caltrans Corridor Director
Phone: (619) 688-2561, Email: mario.orso@dot.ca.gov

Jacqueline Appleton-Deane, Caltrans Project Manager
Phone: (619) 491-3080, Email: jacqueline.appleton-deane@dot.ca.gov

Keri Robinson, SANDAG Goods Movement Planner
Phone: (619) 699-6954, Email: keri.robinson@sandag.org