The California Department of Transportation, District 11 (Caltrans), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is proposing to construct a new land Port of Entry border crossing in East Otay Mesa to serve the San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California areas. The future Otay Mesa East Port of Entry (POE) has been identified by state and local governments in both the United States and Mexico as being necessary to alleviate existing congestion and accommodate future growth in trade and traffic between San Diego and Tijuana.
The project proposes construction of State Route (SR) 11, a new four-lane highway, and a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port of Entry that would be located in the unincorporated community of East Otay Mesa within the Otay Subregional Planning Area in the southernmost portion of San Diego County. From the approved SR 125/SR 905 interchange, SR 11 would extend east approximately 2.5 miles to the proposed Otay Mesa East POE at the U.S.-Mexico international border. Directly north of the future POE in San Diego County, the project area consists of about 3,340 acres of generally undeveloped land that is confined by the San Ysidro Mountains to the east and the Otay River Valley to the north. Much of the land in this area has been designated as industrial and low-density residential by local land use authorities.
According to a January 2006 SANDAG/Caltrans study entitled "Economic Impacts of Wait Times at the San Diego - Baja California Border", border delays discourage cross-border personal trips, and result in increased transportation costs and interruptions in the manufacture and delivery of goods.
In an economy increasingly based on a just-in-time delivery of inputs and products, unpredictable border wait times for trucks act as a barrier to trade, inhibiting cross-border economic investment opportunities. The increase in local population and international trade have resulted in corresponding increases in both local and cross-border traffic along the southern U.S. border, placing an increased strain on the POEs and related local and regional transportation infrastructure. The existing San Ysidro and Otay Mesa POEs have become a bottleneck in the system of interchange between the two countries, increasingly restricting the safe and secure movement of people and goods at certain times. The average processing and wait time for commercial freight crossings at the Otay Mesa POE has been reported as typically 1.5 to 2 hours (without U.S. secondary inspection), with 10 percent of commercial crossers waiting as much as four hours.
With border processing times averaging more than two hours per truck, it is estimated that San Diego County loses $539 million in annual revenue from reduced freight activity. This translates to, in 2007, more than 2,900 jobs or $155 million lost in labor income a year. Labor income losses fall heavily in the machinery and equipment sector. In 2007, the overall impact at the state level is anticipated at $847 million in foregone output and $242 million in labor income losses (or more than 4,300 jobs). For the United States, total output losses are estimated at $1.5 billion and employment losses at more than 9,000 jobs in 2007.