SAN DIEGO — U.S. and Mexican officials broke ground Tuesday on the first phase of a roughly $700 million freeway project to connect a planned border crossing east of Otay Mesa to the area’s highway system.
The 2-mile state Route 11, which officials said would lessen wait times and increase trade, will be built in three stages.
The $112 million first segment will include connectors to state Route 905 and a stretch of new highway from I-905 east to Enrico Fermi Drive. Construction is set to begin this month, with completion expected in 2015, according to Caltrans. “This project is a shining example of productive partnerships on both sides of the international border as we continue to plan and implement transportation solutions,” Caltrans District 11 Director Laurie Berman said.
The following two phases, which will extend the highway to the border and create a new border crossing, will be built as funding becomes available, according to Caltrans.
Plans call for toll roads approaching the border, crossing both north and south of the border, allowing travelers the opportunity to pay a fee to get to the border more quickly and avoid lengthy waits.
According to the San Diego Association of Government, $54 billion worth of goods move across the region’s borders annually, yet truckers regularly face waits that exceed two hours at each crossing.
“This is a big step toward eventually building a fourth port of entry in the San Diego region,” SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilman Jack Dale said. “The innovative new crossing will make it possible for commercial and private vehicles willing to pay a toll to get across the border in a secure way and quickly, cutting congestion and giving a big boost to our local and state economies.”