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California and Mexico pledge enhanced collaboration with New Port of Entry

-Editorial

The governments of California and Mexico signed an agreement today reinforcing their mutual commitment to support the Otay Mesa East/Mesa de Otay II Port of Entry project, a major cross-border infrastructure initiative that will greatly expand trade capacity along the busiest border region in the Western hemisphere and provide a fast, predictable and secure crossing with an average wait time goal of 20 minutes.

Under the pact, the California State Transportation Agency, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and the Mexico Ministries of Foreign Relations, Communications, and Transportation, and Finance and Public Credit commit to enhanced coordination and collaboration to open the 21st century port of entry by late 2024, providing a relief valve to the entire region with decreased congestion and wait times at the other San Diego border crossings.

“This important agreement further solidifies a thriving partnership to create a new, cutting-edge border crossing that will bolster international trade and spark economic recovery,” said California Secretary of Transportation David S. Kim. 

“I am proud to stand with the Government of Mexico and our regional partners to reaffirm this commitment to transform the way people and goods move throughout the border region.”

“The signing of the memorandum of understanding between Mexican and Californian leaders represents a shared cooperation and understanding that Mexico and California are more prosperous when we work together,” said Roberto Velasco Álvarez, General Director for North America at Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. “In this way, we take a step toward the goal of building a modern, secure border that doesn’t divide but unites our societies.”

“Today is a momentous day for California’s ongoing cooperation with our partners to the south,” Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis said. “This new port of entry will not only spur economic activity, but it will also improve the quality of life for the millions of Californians and Mexicans who frequently cross one of the busiest borders in the world. A great example of California’s leadership in combatting climate change, the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility in the region.”

As part of the accord, the parties will work together to meet ambitious construction milestones, quickly resolve policy issues, and establish a framework to share toll revenues for project funding.

Caltrans District 11 and SANDAG are laying the groundwork for the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project by constructing the State Route 11 toll road, which will connect with new adjoining infrastructure in Mexico.

“The pledge propels our joint vision for our binational transportation system into reality,” Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda said. “It also makes it possible for our region to embrace bold and transformative ideas that help solve major global, state and border region issues like climate change and equity.”

“Today marks a significant moment in our region’s history,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “As we plan for the future of transportation, with the SANDAG 2021 Regional Plan, we are one step closer to a future state-of-the-art facility that is critically needed for the state of California and the United States as our binational region continues to grow.”

Travelers crossing the border between Tijuana and San Diego experience average wait times of up to two hours for passenger and commercial vehicles – harming the environment and the economy. The addition of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry will have a significant and immediate impact, cutting peak wait times in half at the nearby ports of entry on opening day and providing a projected economic boost of $1.8 billion annually.

“Efficient, dependable goods movement is fundamental for the many California businesses who depend on our logistics infrastructure for their export activities and broader supply chain needs. 

Modernizing this port is critical to maintaining California’s global competitiveness,” said Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to the Governor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

Today’s agreement builds on previous binational pacts that have led to increased investment and construction at California ports of entry. To date, the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project has secured approximately $565 million in federal, state, and local funding, with California contributing $267 million – including more than $100 in funding through California’s Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, established by Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

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