SAN DIEGO–Segment 1 of State Route 11 – a new four-lane highway in Otay Mesa – will open to traffic tomorrow afternoon, helping to facilitate crossborder commerce and ease congestion along the San Diego-Tijuana border.
The 1.7 mile segment, including connectors to SR 905, extends east from SR 905 to Enrico Fermi Drive. This new facility provides trucks departing the Otay Mesa Port of Entry direct access to the state highway system. The SR 11 segment also connects cross border trucking and industrial facilities on the eastern end of Otay Mesa directly to the highway system. To date, trucks have relied heavily on local roads, such as La Media Road and Airway Road, to get around.
Segment 1 of SR 11 is part of a larger project to build a new port of entry (POE) connecting San Diego and Tijuana. Future phases will extend the highway about one mile to the border and create a new state-of-the-art POE that will provide fast, predictable, and secure crossings. The goal is to operate the future Otay Mesa East/Mesa de Otay II POE with a 20-minute border wait time.
Caltrans and SANDAG are spearheading the development of both the Otay Mesa East project and the border roadway network. In addition to SR 11, the two agencies are working to build three freeway-to-freeway connectors linking SR 905 and SR 11 with northbound SR 125. Construction on the connectors started in November 2015 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.
“Building 21st century border infrastructure is incredibly important to the economic vitality of our region and the entire state of California,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts who chairs the SANDAG Board. “Mexico is California’s number one export market, and it’s the United States’ third largest trading partner after Canada and China. We are committed to building world-class infrastructure to nurture and sustain binational trade and support job growth.”
The SR 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project is the result of collaboration by a number of key local, state, and federal agencies in both the United States and Mexico, including the General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, and Mexican Customs/Aduanas.
“This is the first of three segments that will eventually lead to an additional port of entry in the San Diego region. In the interim, motorists and commercial vehicles will be able to use this newly completed highway section to gain easier access to the region’s highway system,” said Caltrans District Director Laurie Berman. “This partially completed project will reduce traffic and congestion on local streets, getting travelers to their destination.”
Currently, all border crossings between the San Diego area and Tijuana are congested, with border wait times routinely exceeding two hours. Border traffic congestion and delays cost the U.S. and Mexican economies an estimated $7.2 billion in gross output (value of goods and services produced) and more than 62,000 jobs, according to a 2007 study conducted by SANDAG. In addition to economic loss, border congestion is also detrimental to air quality.
The first segment cost $103.4 million, including right-of-way acquisition. Funding sources include: $71.6 million from the Prop. 1B Trade Corridor Improvement Fund (TCIF) and $31.8 million from the federal Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program (CBI). The northbound connectors project is estimated to cost $21.4 million, with $16.1 million from Prop.1B, $2.7 million from CBI, and $2.6 million from the regional TransNet half-cent sales tax for transportation.
Segment Two of the SR 11/Otay Mesa East Project will extend SR 11 from Enrico Fermi Drive east to the new Otay Mesa East Port of Entry just after Siempre Viva Road and includes a new Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility (CVEF). The entire length of the highway will be two miles. Segment Three will build the new Otay Mesa East Port of Entry. The last two phases will be built as funding becomes available.
When SR 11 is completed, it will operate as a tolled facility, providing travelers the opportunity to pay a fee to get to the border more quickly, drastically reducing the lengthy waits they currently endure.