Insight

Cross-border facility to Tijuana airport breaks ground

November 28, 2013

By CARLOS RICO, The Daily Transcript

Ground has been broken and construction has begun on a port of entry project that will connect Otay Mesa and the Tijuana International Airport.

The project centers on a 500-foot-long and 33-foot-wide pedestrian bridge that will lead over the U.S.-Mexico fenced border directly into the terminal of the Tijuana airport.

The pedestrian bridge will be enclosed, with separate corridors to prevent contact between northbound and southbound pedestrians.

Construction started in August in Tijuana on a variety of upgrades and maintenance projects, including the terminal area that will receive the southern end of the pedestrian bridge, as well as on security facilities, said Stephanie Saathoff, a spokeswoman for the project.

Construction will begin in the United States this winter, Saathoff said, with a 45,000-square-foot building to house the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Surface parking, an area to drop off and pick up passengers, an area for ground transportation and rental car facilities also will be built.

The San Diego-Tijuana airport cross-border facility is estimated to take 15 months to complete and is expected to open in spring 2015.

The cross-border facility is meant strictly for ticketed travelers flying in and out of the Tijuana airport.

“Southbound crossers must prove they are ticketed on a Tijuana flight, and northbound access will be limited to those who have arrived on a Tijuana flight,” Saathoff said.

The $50 million project is being developed and funded by private investment group Otay-Tijuana Venture LLC, which includes Chicago-based Equity Group Investments and several individual investors in Mexico.

Saathoff said there will be a toll to use the bridge.

The preliminary estimate is $12 to $15 to cross one way, she said, although it hasn’t been determined whether it will cost the same for each direction.

This cross-border facility has been in the works for approximately five years. Saathoff said the developers wanted to invest in a project such as this because of the demand for another access point to and from the Tijuana airport.

About 2 million Tijuana passengers per year use the congested land ports of entry at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, she said.

“The investors recognized the opportunity created by existing demand and the limited expansion capability at other Southern California airports,” Saathoff said.

Saathoff added that the investors expect approximately 75 percent of all cross-border Tijuana airport travelers will use their pedestrian bridge, or 1.7 million passengers per year.

The architectural firm Legorreta Y Legorreta and Stantec designed the project. Saathoff said the names of contractors in charge of construction will not be released at this time.

Construction on the U.S. side will take place on a 55-acre site in the city of San Diego and directly north of the Tijuana airport. Access to the cross-border facility will be gained from Britannia Boulevard or La Media Road via the 905 freeway.

The project’s developers on the U.S. side also plan to add a 30,000-square-foot building and a parking structure. Saathoff said timing of this phase would be based on passenger demand.

And in January 2012, the San Diego City Council approved permitting for a future hotel and commercial developments there.

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