Otay Mesa border crossing gets $65M from California

The goal is to reduce wait times for trucks at the Otay Mesa border crossing to a 20-minute average

California officials recently approved $65.2 million for projects aimed at speeding up commercial border traffic between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, as well as modernizing facilities at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry (POE). 

The projects include creating a state-of-the-art border crossing three miles east of the original Otay Mesa POE. The new crossing will be called Otay Mesa East or Otay Mesa II. Once it’s completed, it will be the third border crossing in Otay Mesa.

“The Otay Mesa East facility will help in alleviating the congestion the [nearby] San Ysidro Port of Entry faces daily by giving travelers an alternative route to cross into the United States,” San Diego City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno said in a release

The city of San Diego recently applied for $42.5 million in state grants to help fund the border crossing, which has been in the works since 2013. Otay Mesa East is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The new crossing will include a four-lane tolled road connecting directly to Otay Mesa East and a California Highway Patrol commercial vehicle enforcement facility.

The goal is to reduce wait times for trucks at the Otay Mesa border crossing to a 20-minute average. Current wait times average 150 minutes for commercial vehicles.

The $42.5 million in funding for Otay Mesa East helps bridge a gap between the $523 million in place for the project and its $944 million estimated price tag, officials said.

The projects are a partnership between Mexico and the U.S. government, the California Department of Transportation and San Diego.

During 2019, more than 1.25 million commercial trucks passed through the Otay Mesa POE.

In September, 86,663 commercial trucks crossed the border through Otay Mesa, an 8.5% increase compared to the same month in 2019, according to the latest Census Bureau data.

The Otay Mesa POE was the second-ranked port for trade with Mexico in October, totaling $36.6 billion in two-way trade, according to data from WorldCity. The port of entry in Laredo, Texas, was No. 1 with $163.4 billion in two-way trade in October. 

The Otay Mesa border crossing also received $22.7 million for the La Media Road Improvements Project, which consists of widening La Media Road from State Route 905 to the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“This project will repair a vital piece of our freight transportation network and alleviate congestion by reducing truck idling and congestion caused by trucks on local streets,” Moreno said.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact