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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Calexico Border Update

Calexico Border Update - March 2009
By Bob Ham

In a meeting in Mexicali on January 19, SIDUE, the Baja state government agency that coordinates transportation development, revealed their plans for an expanded port of entry at the downtown Calexico port. Last September the U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) made their plans known for the proposed upgrades to this port of entry.

The GSA plan for the U.S. side of the border will increase the current 10 lanes to 16 lanes. With the new design, each lane will allow for a new “double stacking” strategy that the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) is experimenting with at existing ports. Using this strategy, the new downtown Calexico port will be able to operate as many as 32 lanes during peak congestion times.

Current plans call for the GSA to begin construction of the redesigned port in 2010 and finish the first phase by 2011. The second phase of construction will be concluded in 2014. CBP will have the ability to expand the number of SENTRI lanes to whatever level is necessary to maintain the minimal wait times for participants in this program.

The new plans that were revealed by the Baja state government call for an extensive complex of new roads and bridges to access the downtown port. A new four-lane access road along the border fence coming from the west will be constructed. This road (Cristobal Colon) will essentially be an extension of the existing road from the east that we have used for years to access the port. The new plans call for new bridges and underpasses at the border approaches that will remind a traveler of the crossing between San Ysidro and Tijuana.

Access to the new road from the west will be via a new expressway that will begin near the Costco store at the beginning of the San Felipe Highway. This road (Perifico Gomez Morin) will be an expressway that heads west and then turns north to connect to the new Cristobal Colon access along the western border fence. Construction for all of the new access roads and the reconfigured Mexican customs and immigration facilities will be complete in 2014.

Officials in Calexico and Imperial County made countless trips to Washington, D.C., to lobby for more infrastructure to speed up the process of crossing into the United States ever since the extra security measures started being implemented after 9-11. These efforts are now paying off, and the expectation is that when complete, the border wait times should decrease by about two thirds.

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Below is a diagram of the proposed improvements.