SAN DIEGO — Transportation leaders broke ground Monday on an infrastructure project to connect major roadways at the border to reduce vehicle congestion and accommodate the growing number of trucks carrying goods between the U.S. and Mexico.
The project at Otay Mesa will link state Route 905 and the future state Route 11 to northbound state Route 125.
Officials said over the past two decades, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has grown by an average of 10 percent a year — an increase that exceeds that of U.S. trade with the rest of the world.
Last year, more than 800,000 northbound trucks and $39 billion in goods passed through the Otay Mesa Port of Etry.
“In order for our region to stay globally competitive, it’s imperative that we improve our border infrastructure to facilitate the movement of goods and people,” said Jack Dale, a Santee city councilman who chairs the San Diego Association of Governments. “Border congestion costs the U.S. and Mexico billions of dollars in foregone economic output and tens of thousands of jobs each year.”
The $21.5 million project is expected to be completed in late 2016. Funding sources include a $15.9 million chunk from Proposition 1B Trade Corridors Improvement Fund and $2.7 million from the TransNet half-cent sales tax for transportation uses approved by San Diego County voters, among other funding sources.
Caltrans officials said the project is designed to remedy one of the last missing links in the overall border road network. Currently, truckers congest city streets and local roads to access SR 125. The new connectors will create a seamless highway system, greatly reducing wait times at the border, according to Caltrans.