Feds OK money to finish San Ysidro border expansion

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SAN DIEGO — The $1.1 trillion spending bill signed by President Barack Obama this week completes the funding of an expansion project at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a top priority for the region’s business community, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Wednesday.

The bill provides $216 million for a new pedestrian crossing and administrative building.

The border crossing is a major driver of the local economy, according to the mayor.

“The full funding of the expansion project allows the city of San Diego and our partners throughout the region to focus on making our border more efficient and effective,” Faulconer said. “The shorter wait times will promote job growth and increase opportunities for bi-national trade.”

Area business leaders have complained that long wait times to cross into the United States from Mexico have cost the regional economy billions of dollars over the years, especially in the era of heightened security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

San Ysidro is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere and processes an average of 50,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 northbound pedestrians daily. The San Diego Association of Governments projects an 87 percent increase in vehicle traffic in San Ysidro by 2030, making its reconfiguration and expansion a priority for the region.

The completion of the expansion project “will result in more jobs, greater border safety and efficiency, and increased economic growth,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, who represents the border area.

According to the mayor’s office, once the $735 million project is completed, the port will have 62 northbound vehicle inspection booths, a dedicated bus lane, an inspection booth spread over 34 lanes and improved processing facilities for buses and members of a rapid inspection program.

Also, the crossing into Mexico will be expanded from five to 10 lanes.

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