Local Leaders Call for Port of Entry Expansion

A group of elected representatives and business leaders met at the San Ysidro Port of Entry Monday to call on Congress to fund the remaining portions of a project to expand the border crossing. Local leaders are calling it the single most important project for our region.

If you visited the area, you'd find a huge construction zone as workers complete phase one of the project - which involves easing traffic into the United States.

President Obama included in his budget money to ease traffic into Mexico, but the house appropriations committee apparently still needs some convincing.

Enter a pre-Christmas plea from our local politicians.

"We're asking the Congress to put in their budget the money to continue to expand the border here and the great thing is we're all in unison, we're all together on this," said U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to help stimulate our economy, when folks are able to cross back and forth easily, in a smarter way, we know that San Diego businesses and California in general benefits," said San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria.

Mexico completed its side of the border project last year.

It's estimated at least $226 million will be needed to complete the improvements on the U.S. side. An estimated 50,000 cars move northbound through the port of entry from Tijuana into San Ysidro every day.

The project is set to be completed in three phases.

In Phase 1, an east-west pedestrian bridge, a southbound pedestrian crossing and reconditioning 24 single inspection lanes to 25 double inspection lanes are complete. Ongoing work for metal and cable shading for the 25 lanes and a new head office building is included in Phase 1, according to Jason Wells, head of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.

Phase 3 would expand southbound lanes and improve a western pedestrian crossing, as well as realigning I-5 to lead into El Chaparral, the completed Mexico project.

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