SAN DIEGO — The county’s vision for breezier commutes back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border took another step forward Thursday when officials unveiled new freeway ramps in Otay Mesa.
The new southbound state Route 125 connectors to eastbound state Route 905 and eastbound state Route 11 offer residents of East County and parts of Chula Vista a more direct connection to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and surrounding border area.
Previously, drivers using southbound SR-125 had to exit at Otay Mesa Road and use side-streets on the way to their final destination. Now they’ll have the option to transfer to SR-905 and head east straight toward Siempre Viva Road (the last U.S. exit) and the border crossing.
They’ll also have a gateway to the future Otay Mesa East Port of Entry — San Diego’s third border crossing, slated to open by late 2024.
Once that port opens, SR-11 will serve as a toll road with approach lanes monitored and adjusted based on traffic. For a fee, drivers will wait an average of just 20 minutes to get through the new port, according to officials. The toll will vary based on border wait times to help keep traffic moving.
The addition of a third port is expected to reduce wait times at the existing crossings in Otay Mesa and San Ysidro by as much as 50% during peak wait times.
The port will also facilitate faster trips for commercial vehicles involved in binational trade, officials said. More than 90% of commerce between the countries is moved by truck, according to SANDAG.
The reduced amount of time that vehicles will have to sit idling at the border and giving off emissions is also hailed as an environmental benefit of the project.
Federal, local and state leaders had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the opening of the new freeway connectors.