August 25, 2015
Extreme congestion at the existing Otay Mesa Port of Entry inhibits the flow of international trade at the border. The Chamber continues to advocate for improvements at this POE and increased collaboration between Mexico and the United States to reduce the impacts of commercial traffic.
San Diego is considered a gateway for trade, commerce and tourism between Mexico and the United States, and efficiencies at our Land Ports of Entry play a critical role in our economic growth.
The trade growth at the current Otay Mesa POE, the main commercial gateway for international trade between California and Mexico, has consistently outpaced the gross regional product (GRP) since 2006. In 2013, the value of trade at Otay Mesa exceeded $35 billion, and yet, our region is far from reaching its full economic potential. Congestion at the current Otay Mesa POE constricts the flow of people and freight, choking off economic opportunities. Border wait times for commercial trucks – the major conduit of binational trade – currently take as long as two to four hours, costing the United States and Mexico a combined $7.2 billion annually in lost economic output and more than 62,000 jobs each year.
The Improvement and Renovation Project at the Otay Mesa port of entry is part of the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) or Tax Administrative Services Department’s five-year (2013-2018) Customs Infrastructure Modernization Plan. Earlier this year, SAT announced their expedited completion of the plan, including the Otay Mesa Port of East improvements as well. As the second busiest commercial crossing along the border, the planned improvements at Otay are expected to expand an additional 6.1 acres in space and increase the number of customs officials. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016 totaling a cost of $600 million MXN, approximately $40 million USD. These improvements will contribute to making the border an efficient place for trade and increase its competitiveness in the global market. The Improvement and Renovation Project at the Otay Mesa POE began on December 22, 2014.
Three phase process:
Construction of Phase 1 will include the redesign of docks for inbound inspections and validations, offices for administration officials as well as all Import/Export personnel, and all electrical, hydraulic and sanitation facilities. During this initial phase, all freight and empty containers will follow the same incoming freight route from the US into Mexico.
Phase 2 includes construction of a passenger self-declaration facility, low-value importations facility, and paving imports area. During this second phase, coordination with CBP will be critical in order to divert incoming traffic of freight and empty containers to the right hand lane. Passenger self-declaration delays are expected, for which alternative solutions will be explored at that time.
Phase 3 includes construction of inspection facility modules and administration building modules. During this third phase, phase 2 delays are expected to continue.
Through its advocacy efforts, the Chamber has:
- Secured funding for an adequate amount of staffing according to the flow of traffic, especially during the construction. With the proper staffing, wait times both northbound and southbound would be reduced significantly.
- Ensured all modules are always staffed and open in order to maximize operations and complement infrastructure improvements.
- Increased collaboration and communication between Mexico and the U.S. to reduce impacts on commercial truck traffic during the Improvement and Renovation Project at the Otay Mesa POE.