Smart Border Initiatives
Responding to fluctuating flows of pedestrians and vehicles
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently cannot readily adjust the number of open border gates at ports of entry to meet fluctuating need, due to lack of information (“tactical intelligence”) about the numbers of persons and vehicles waiting on approaches to the border on the Mexican side.
Provide CBP with an accurate and measurable way to know wait times for passenger vehicles, cargo and pedestrians.Enablers
- Tijuana Carriers
- App providers
- Baja California State Government
Caltrans obtained a grant in 2019 to pay for WiFi readers in Mexico to create the beginnings of a port system to inform crossers of coditions at all ports. Though most readers are up in the San Ysidro and Otay ports, data collection and communication with crossers has not yet started. It is anticipated that a crossing app will be developed and deployed in 2023.
The Otay Mesa East port of entry will offer Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) that will also work wiht other ports to give travelers a high level view of port conditions for better decisionmaking.
2/14/2020 It was agreed that ADMICARGA and Baja Rail would TOGETHER go to SAT to present the finished executive plan and get formal FINAL authorization for the project. Baja Rail also renewed conversations with MTS to get approval.
11/1/19 Funding is not yet guaranteed for WiFi readers. For its part, Caltrans is working to secure funds through the California Transportation Commission and other sources.
9/1/19 SBC and CDT have decided on WiFi provider for pilot, defined locations in Tijuana to place WiFi readers, signed agreement with one of the locations and in are in talks to guarantee the second location. CDT has sent proposal to FIDEM for pilot study funding. Objective is to run proof of concept from October through December 2019.
7/1/19 SBC has obtained 5 different quotes for WiFi readers and is working with CDT in Tijuana to do a proof of concept. SBC and CDT have submitted a budget for 20 readers to Fondos Tijuana.
5/10/19 Based on SCT not having resources to invest in WiFi/Bluetooth readers until the end of 2020, SBC will explore the possibility of making an investment.
5/8/19 ½ of all CBP reassigned has returned. There are now 9 lanes open. Wait times are abating. Transportation companies have proposed to meet with CBP every week as part of a steering committee to monitor the situation in a disciplined and effective way.
4/22/19 CBP personnel reassignment to support increasing migrant arrivals has reduced 10 cargo lanes to 8 and has affected wait times from the average 1.5 to 2 hours to 4, 5 or even 7 hours, and even longer for perishables. Tijuana streets have been chaotic, there are not enough transit officers to handle truck lines before they arrive at export corridors. Access changes determined by CANACAR and others, but some disorder from truck drivers accessing lanes. Vehicle wait times and Otay and San Ysidro POEs are also up. SAT’s “technification” efforts will result in all trucks being X-Rayed 200 meters prior to arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Information will be shared between SAT and CBP. Will likely have bidding process for this contract.
4/15/19 SBC expressed interest in investing in the sorely needed wait time readers in Tijuana to establish a baseline for accurate wait times. SBC has researched devices that may be used and locations in Tijuana where they can be set up. At SAT forum it was decided that Caltrans would coordinate with SCT and SBC to get this project done. SCT initially told us there were no studies or budget to install and maintain readers; however, they do have access to resources at this time and will use Caltrans’ study on best locations for readers. The objective is to have the readers up and running in 60 days.
3/7/19 SAT determined PITA technology (Customs Technology Integration Project already working at Otay POE for cargo) could not be used to place readers for wait times in areas outside of the port. SCT must commission a study through their Center for Traffic Control but no funds are available yet. However, National SAT Director Ricardo Peralta will have SAT’s Fund Committee discuss this week of 3/11.
2/20/19 Smart Border Coalition working with UCSD professor to enable a “Smart Border App” to provide accurate wait times as well as predictability (best times to cross). We are mapping areas where WiFi detectors could be installed on Tijuana side.
2/15/19 SAT binational project coordination is looking into using PITA technology (Customs Technology Integration Project already working at Otay POE for cargo) at points along lanes on Tijuana side.
12/31 As of the end of the year, Caltrans was considering grant possibilities to purchase, install and maintain WiFi readers. State of Baja has not allocated funds yet. US reliance likely 100%. BirdsEye Aerial Drones and CBP have opened up a discussion about using drones
10/15 Caltrans is looking into grant possibilities to purchase, install and maintain WiFi readers. State of Baja has not allocated funds. US reliance likely 100%. BirdsEye Aerial Drones and CBP have opened up a discussion about using drones.
8/28 Wait time reader project discussed with Caltrans and SECTURE. This is a $260,000 project that includes reader installation. CALTRANS has the back office support (algorithms and systems) and has budget for Southbound wait time measurement projects on the entire California border. It would be ideal to have the complementary Mexican wait times. SECTURE is looking into resources to invest this year. SECTURE will look into additional quotes, as the group believes we can lower the amount.
7/3 Conversation with Birdseye Aerial Drones and Bluenose IT to use San Diego designation as a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) Integration Pilot Program to explore options for tethered drones in border area airspace to measure wait times and make reports available to agencies and crossers.
7/3 For Southbound vehicles at El Chaparral, SBC will approach SAT regarding idea to redesign the entry area where bays are.
Commercial Crossing Information System Commercial Crossing Information System monitoring has been useful in analyzing shortcomings of Unified Cargo Processing at Otay Mesa (monitoring 45 trucks). SBC has assigned a small budget for a proposal from GMX-21 to share real time data and analytics with agencies.
Meetings Had meetings with Adaptive Motion Group of San Diego to explore installing sensors on light posts to measure wait times.
6/22 On 6/22/18 revived conversations with Caltrans to launch Northbound wait time management sensors similar to the Southbound system being piloted today.
Started discussions with CANIETI Started discussions with CANIETI (IT National Chamber, Tijuana Chapter) to strategize on ways to establish alliances with local technology companies to measure vehicle and pedestrian wait times.
Met with Caltrans on 2/14 to discuss supporting Met with Caltrans on 2/14 to discuss supporting their efforts to launch Northbound wait time management sensors similar to the Southbound system being piloted today. SBC is willing to get involved from a donation perspective as well as governance through its relationship with Tijuana’s Local Development Council. We can work with the Mexican Communications and Transportation Ministry or do it independently with our own funds and CDT resources (FIDEM). We keep the solution local and we establish helpful governance. SBC/Caltrans can then offer both data to the community at large and actionable reports for CBP and SAT a bit later on.
2/15 Established a relationship with Juan Carlos Villa Regional Manager Latin America Texas A&M Transportation Institute. They have funds from DHS to implement a cargo wait time solution at Otay Mesa using RFID.
The flow of cargo trucks to and from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry is hampered by the deficient condition and configuration of Tijuana streets and roads carrying the traffic. Inspections are slow because of insufficient numbers of U.S. and Mexican agents, too few lanes, and overdue implementation of available technological solutions.Proposed Solution
Improve and segment access roads on the Mexican side of the border and adopt technologies to reduce bottlenecks.Enablers
- City of Tijuana
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Servicio de Administracion Tributaria (SAT)
- Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE)
- Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Transformación (CANACINTRA)
- Carrier Association (CANACAR)
- Otay Mesa Industrial Association (AIMO)
- Tech and telecom companies
The best way to obtain progress on access roads to the ports is CANACAR and the State Government of Baja California. There is an access road infrastructure plan for Southbound trucks at Otay and CANACAR has been actively trying to implement more orderly ways for all truck types to get in line to cross into the US.
The State Government of Baja through its Infrastructure Secretariat (SIDURT) must make some access points a priority. And the City of Tijuana's econ development and transit gorup must be more proactively work with CANACAR to move the needle.
1/1/2020 ANACAR (Tijuana transportation association) led a group that implemented a new plan for trucks to access lanes near the Otay Mesa POE.
11/1/19 Smart Border Coalition is participating with CANACAR, the Tijuana Police Department, Customs Brokers Association and City Delegates on a strategy to manage cargo traffic towards the Otay Mesa Port. City of Tijuana proposed new routes according to lane types and will sign agreement with trade this month.
9/1/19 Design for lane changes has been completed but it must be presented to CDT executive committee and subsequently to the incoming city administration.
7/1/19 SBC is working with CDT on an initial design to make changes to the current medical lane, All Traffic access point, new Ready lanes and additional Ready Lane access point. This process requires additional internal validation before we present a formal proposal to the city.
5/1/19 ½ of all CBP reassigned has returned. There are now 9 lanes open. Wait times are abating. Transportation companies have proposed to meet with CBP every week as part of a steering committee to monitor the situation in a disciplined and effective way.
4/22/19 CBP personnel reassignment to support increasing migrant arrivals has reduced 10 cargo lanes to 8 and has affected wait times from the average 1.5 to 2 hours to 4, 5 or even 7 hours, and even longer for perishables. Tijuana streets have been chaotic, there are not enough transit officers to handle truck lines before they arrive at export corridors. Access changes determined by CANACAR and others, but some disorder from truck drivers accessing lanes. Vehicle wait times and Otay and San Ysidro POEs are also up. Return lane to Otay I being discussed in detail with GSA.
2/21/19 City of Tijuana has deployed Medical Lane app. SENTRI West lane initiative has not taken off yet -- progress must be made between City of Tijuana and CBP
2/15/19 SAT Binational Coordination group has prioritized a traffic integration project from Otay Port of Entry to Bellas Artes Boulevard. What’s missing is the new lane for cargo trucks returned by CBP. GSA begins this construction in May and there is no news from SAT.
CANACINTRA (Manufacturing Industry Association) CANACINTRA (Manufacturing Industry Association) received funding for $35 million pesos from the City and State to pave a circuit that includes 4 streets adjacent to the OM: new CaliBaja Blvd. parallel to the border, Fray Mayorga, F. Moyarca, Mar Bermejo) that will enhance the area’s image and accelerate its growth. The new boulevard will allow empty trucks coming into the city to bypass Bellas Artes Blvd. and go directly to Airport Boulevard. Work on these 4 streets is still proceeding.
CANACAR’S plan CANACAR’S plan could be the most comprehensive and feasible since it has used the City’s Urban Development Plan as baseline. The plan has incorporated changes that both CANACINTRA and AIMO have proposed. Their plan to have regular trucks using 12th Avenue in Tijuana and empties using Latinoamericana Street.
Though the City of Tijuana received INDAABIN’s Though the City of Tijuana received INDAABIN’s final document for donation of the area in the export corridor at the end of November, we have since found out that there are another 3 plots of land along the export corridor that have private owners. These will have to go through a similar donation process.
CANACINTRA’s efforts SBC will be discussing ways in which it can support CANACINTRA’s efforts. Our objective is to establish a formal alliance with them.
3/8 Most streets near the Otay POE (industrial area) have been paved; new avenue parallel to the border fence used exclusively for empty trucks getting back to Mexico is one month behind schedule.
6/25 Spoke with Daniel Rivera, IMPLAN director, to discuss status of truck ramp. The project has been completed based on comments from Dionisio Razo of SIDUE. Cost/benefit and environmental impact analyses must be completed. We will need funding for this from State Government, City of Tijuana, CANACINTRA and others. Daniel Rivera will set up meeting with SIDUE’s Carlos Lopez to move this along.
6/25 All streets near Otay Mesa POE (industrial area) have been paved with the exception of 2 that had not been considered. The new avenue parallel to the border fence --used exclusively for empty trucks-- has been completed. Requirement today is for CANACINTRA (with SBC support) to ask for State of Baja California funds to complete the ramp from the new Boulevard back into the industrial area ($2.5 million cost).
Calle 12 and Latinoamericana Streets Calle 12 and Latinoamericana Streets used by cargo to get to Otay border are still bottlenecks as not all carriers are abiding by new rules.
7/5 Meeting with SCT Delegate in Baja California, Ernesto Aguilar Gándara, to inquire about Otay II land acquisition and new lanes at San Ysidro POE. SBC provided critical information for Aguilar to take to Mexico City for his meeting with Raul Flores, new Highways Director.
7/2 Meeting with SIDUE Secretary Alfonso Padrés and CANACINTRA President Marcello Hinojosa to discuss empty truck ramp in Airport area as well as list of road and infrastructure improvement initiatives that SBC is pursuing. Will now have more consistent and detailed information from SIDUE; SCT will also be better connected to SBC based on Secretary Padrés’s experience as head of SCT for Baja California.
7/19 SIDUE has completed the executive project for truck ramp returning to Otay’s industrial area but lacks resources for build out. The project will be registered with the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP). However, there are no funds earmarked for the construction. CANACINTRA will pay for cost/benefit analysis and environmental impact but needs City of Tijuana to provide names of State Government people or companies that can carry out the studies. There is no plan for any ramp over Padre Kino Boulevard to better segment vehicles going to the SENTRI lane.
8/21 SBC Board will consider funding for installation of metal turnstyles at Ped East for Southbound pedestrians. There will also be a tourism/police booth financed with State funds. The project has a $4,500 cost. INDAABIN and SAT were also interested in participating.
8/21 Economic Development Secretary announced that the Medical Lane will now have a paperless pass to avoid the black market. There will no longer be VIP passes. CANIETI has created the technology for this pass.
8/21 Mobility Secretary announced they are working with CBP on a “SENTRI and Ready West” project that would eliminate the need for vehicles coming from west of Zona Rio across to Via Rapida and Padre Kino Blvd. to get in line.
10/30 Medical Lane changes: CANACINTRA Tijuana is coordinating app development and implementation for medical lane use. Application allows doctors to purchase medical passes for patients online, the City of Tijuana to know who is purchasing and using the pass in real time and the user to present a QR code or scan their phone at the booth. The application can also give driving directions to the lane. Application will be released in December and will substitute the cumbersome paper process used today. Fondos Tijuana is paying for the development. The process has taken close to 1.5 years.
11/13 SENTRI and Ready West lanes -- SEDETI proposed these lanes to CBP. SY Port Director stated that this would not be a true option until the No Tags issue improved substantially.
Drivers approaching the ports of entry on the Tijuana side are confused about the routes to take and consequently get lost and/or end up inappropriate specialized lanes.Proposed Solution
Substantially improve signage on the Mexican side at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Work with online mapping companies to segment roadways.Enablers
- Office of Congressman Juan Vargas
- Smart Border Coalition
- Comité de Turismo y Convenciones de Tijuana (COTUCO not on list)
- Consejo de Desarrollo Económico de Tijuana (CDT)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Online mapping companies
City of Tijuana and State of Baja have not put any attention on signage. The topic has become a non-starter owing to the multiple initiatives from business association and economic development groups. However, a full revamp of sigange was never done. There is currently no appetite from business associations about obsolete or inadequiate signage.
Smart Border Coalition has not pursued this topic since 2019.
2/10/2020 City of Tijuana is working in assigning resources to to implement tourism signage for at least 1 district near San Ysidro POE. The Local Development Council would likely lead the implementation effort.
11/1/19 There has been no progress due to recent start of new administrations. CDT and SECTURE were in the disbursement stage for signage in 2 districts ($2 million pesos). This funding was to include tourism signage. There are also another $500,000 pesos from City funds to apply toward signage.
9/1/19 CDT and SECTURE are still in the disbursement stage for signage in 2 districts ($2 million pesos). This funding will also include tourism signage. There are also another $500,000 pesos from City funds to apply toward signage.
7/18/11 SBC presented letter to incoming Tijuana Mayor Gonzalez asking for the city to take a serious look at a digital system for signage.
7/1/19 Only 10 of the 16 nodes have been completed due to manufacturer delays and Fondos Tijuana fund postponement. Fondos Tijuana committee needs to authorize funds to supply tourism signage.
5/2/19 16 nodes have been completed. The Tourism signage study is complete.
2/28/19 The first 16 nodes will be completed by the end of March. Tourism signage study has been completed. Fondos Tijuana (medical lane money) will be used to pay for this.
1/9/19 As of 1/9/19, per the completed signage plan, SEDETI is coordinating project to install the first 16 nodes. CDT has been tasked to manage the City’s resources for 10 nodes in 2018, 50% of which have been completed. The City will be paying for all of these (2.2 million pesos). The State of Baja Government has invested 4 million pesos and has finished 6 additional nodes. CDT also finished a complementary $40,000 tourism signage study. Signage for this will be paid by Fondos Tijuana (medical lane ). CDT is also looking at proposals for a $90,000 dollar study.
CDT CDT is conducting a complementary $40,000 tourism signage study and will hire a consultant to conduct a $250,000 traffic and light study.
As of 1/9/19 As of 1/9/19, per the completed signage plan, SEDETI is coordinating project to install the first 16 nodes. CDT has been tasked to manage the City’s resources for 10 nodes in 2018, 50% of which have been completed. The City will be paying for all of these (2.2 million pesos). The State of Baja Government has invested 4 million pesos and has finished 6 additional nodes. CDT also finished a complementary $40,000 tourism signage study. Signage for this will be paid by Fondos Tijuana (medical lane ). CDT is also looking at proposals for a $90,000 dollar study.
As of 11/30, SEDETI As of 11/30/18, SEDETI is coordinating the project to install the first 16 nodes. The City will be paying for 10 of these (2.2 million pesos) with Fondos Tijuana and the State of Baja Government investing 4 million pesos for 6 more. This is ongoing. CDT has been tasked to manage the City’s resources for the 10 nodes in 2018. Another 29 nodes are pending at a cost of 8.2 million pesos. Tourism signage is not included. -CDT is conducting a complementary $40,000 tourism signage study and will hire a consultant to conduct a $250,000 traffic and light study.
CDT will also manage City CDT will also manage City resources for another 10 nodes in 2019. Next fiscal year will include signage for medical tourism in District 1 as well as additional State of Baja funds for signage close to ports.
8/21 City of Tijuana Economic Development, Urban Development and Mobility Secretaries highlighted that SEDETI is now coordinating 100% of all signage projects (Phase I of Destination signage which SECTURE has financed for up to $4 million pesos; Gastronomic route; and CDT signage proposal). They will combine city and State funds and any balance will have to be covered by private enterprise and various business chambers.
7/19 Plaza Viva Tijuana will get State funding to renovate alleyway and add ramps to guide pedestrians to medical facilities and to Avenida Revolución.
6/26 SBC attended CCE meeting with key stakeholders (CCE, Secretariat of Economic Development, CDT, Cotuco and CDT) to fund entire first phase of destination signage project as well as tourism signage (pleasure and business). Agreement for CCE to fund tourism project (with some financial contribution from SBC). CCE will approach Mayor to have the City cover the $5 million peso balance of the destination signage project. COTUCO’s role to provide maps and key locations for tourism signage to SICAP (signage manufacturing company). COTUCO are also paying for 6 signs for tourism (in English, Spanish and Mandarin). State of Baja California is paying for most signs at SY and EC POEs, for a total of $5.7 million pesos. Funds are in to start work on 6/27/18.
6/1 SBC has been working with CDT to offer a simple way for potential project sponsors to see the sign type and location.
4/19 SBC obtained definitive signage plan for Zona Rio and areas close to San Ysidro border: 254 signs, 45 nodes, with $12.5 million peso price tag. State of Baja California will pay for 12 nodes near El Chaparral and SY (over $4 million pesos), City will pay $2 million. SBC and business associations must decide if they want to “adopt” nodes. This is something CDT and SBC will promote.
4/8 SBC provided funds to manufacture and install 54 signs near the Otay POE advising drivers about lanes to take. Project has been completed.
The PedWest pedestrian crossing into Mexico at El Chaparral Port of Entry has yet to reach its full potential for handling crossers.Proposed Solution
Enable a welcoming and safe connection with downtown Tijuana through the construction of the Gateway to the Americas Bridge (Umbral de las Americas).
Legislation or ministerial decision to invest a greater percentage of ingress and egress fees in infrastructure at this port of entry.
Legislation to allow radio-frequency identification (RFID) documents to be used when entering Mexico.
PedWest worked well for few months in between 2018 and the spring of 2020. The Pandemic closed the port for many months. It only opened for Covid vaccination of Mexican employees of maquiladoras and has been opened since 2021 for asylum seekers. Thus the regular binational community has no access to it.
The most recent argument for the port's closure by CBP is that it is only being used for asylum seekers and vulnerable refugees using temporary staff from CBP in Los Angeles. There is no time frame for its opening to regular pedestrian traffic.
9/1/19 SBC presented letter to incoming Tijuana Mayor Gonzalez and incoming Governor Bonilla regarding funding for the Umbral de las Americas project. We will be following up in tandem with the Tijuana Local Development Council.
7/1/19 No progress yet on this initiative. The objective is to present the case to the incoming Governor and his team.
4/19/19 The Umbral de las Americas project will only become a reality with private funding. SBC has approached a non-profit consultant from Mexico to understand how best to “sell” this project to philanthropic organizations or social impact funds.
2/21/19 This project, though important, has not been included in SAT’s coordinating group for strategic border projects. SBC has asked the CDT leader for this project to submit it to board and have the organization take a leadership position.
As of 10/29, CONAGUA As of 10/29, CONAGUA has still not authorized the right of way and there has been no progress made with funding. SBC has started to scope out other funding sources which would include philanthropy and foundation money in collaboration with Tijuana’s Economic Development Council and Border Fusion.
8/28 Oscar Cortes, Umbral de las Americas project coordinator for CDT states that executive project and environmental impact study have been completed. However, project is on stand-by due to lack of political will to register the project with Mexican Tax Collection and Credit Ministry (SHCP), and CONAGUA has not authorized the right of way.
8/23 Meeting with new INAMI Director Edgar Gonzalez to discuss current needs and challenges.
6/22 Tour of El Chaparral exit, Plaza Viva Tijuana and surrounding areas with COTUCO, CDT and photographer to discuss signage needed to complement existing pedestrian signage plan for Zona Río.
Umbral de las Américas Umbral de las Américas project still in need of $10 million of funding. The CDT has stressed the need for financing from State and Federal agencies to Governor Vega at their Assembly on 6/28.
SBC has been discussing SBC has been discussing a potential legislative or internal ministerial decision to allow for a higher percentage of ingress and egress fees going to INAMI to fund basic border infrastructure at port of entry. During the Regional Chamber delegation trip from 4/15 – 4/18, we brought the issue up with the Secretary of the Interior in Mexico City and with the Tourism Secretariat.
1/26 On 1/26 SBC proposed to work with INAMI on legislation to allow for RFID documents to be accepted when entering Mexico. 85% of all crossings into Mexico are from people who live in the binational region. We are still waiting for a response from INAMI Director Rodulfo Figueroa.
November As of November, average of 2,000 users (800 foreigners and 1,200 Mexican nationals), open from 6am to 10pm, 2 shifts, 15 employees. The comparison is 15,000-18,000 Northbound pedestrians, 25,000 for PedEast Northbound and 2,000 Northbound for CBX.
INAMI and CBP started Pilot INAMI and CBP started Pilot in December to identify Mexican citizens entering Mexico using RFID documents with place of birth: Have segmented lanes by Mexicans and all others. CBP will provide scanning equipment. Will take all WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) compliant RFID documents such as Border crossing cards, green cards, Global Entry and SENTRI, but not Enhanced Driver’s license cards. Only Mexican citizens are involved in the pilot. Mexican immigration legislation must be amended to allow for WHTI documents to be accepted. 85% of all crossings into Mexico are from people who live in the binational region.
The Otay Mesa agricultural inspection facility, formerly on the Mexican side of the border, has given way to Unified Cargo Processing on the United States side of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The binational community must monitor the efficiency of this option.Proposed Solution
Establish a formal monitoring process with feeds to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT).Enablers
- Private Enterprise
Cargo pre-clearance --unified cargo processing-- is now being deployed at 13 ports along the US-Mexico border. Otay Mesa has continued this work, but wait times continue to be longer than pre-pandemic. There are two main reasons for this: one, CBP continues to have staffing challenges. Two, CBP response time to daily issues has been the longest it has ever been according to key truck carriers in the binational community.
Unified Cargo Processing as a program has had little attention paid to it based on ANAM's new leadership communicating infrequenlty with CBP counterparts, per the Border Trade Alliance.
2/14/2020 FAST trucks took an average of 1 hour in the last quarter of 2019 vs. 2-3 hours in the 4th Quarter of 2018. However, wait time volatility continues to be an issue.
1/1/2020 Increased communication between Mexican trade groups and CBP, new access road strategy in Tijuana as well as the opening of a 10th lane on the U.S. side of the border in October have decreased wait times to levels not seen in years.
11/1/19 10 of 10 lanes have now been opened at Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Port Director Joseph Misenhelter having very constructive dialogue with trade on both sides of border. Otay Mesa Chamber spearheaded letter asking CBP for support in several critical trade areas.
9/1/19 Trade groups got SAT to open an additional FAST lane on August 26. 9 of 10 lanes open at CBP. CANACAR, CANACINTRA, AIMO, Asociación de Agentes Aduanales have been speaking with one voice on this. SBC had meetings with AIMO and CANACAR expressing the need to ally with U.S. based organizations to inform binational community of urgency to improve wait times and pursue ways to monitor traffic.
7/1/19 UCP is almost back to normal. The recent House approved $4.6 billion appropriation for CBP will help bring all agents back and return to status quo before the agent assignment occurred.
5/1/19 UCP is getting back to normal with 9 out of 10 lanes working.
4/22/19 due to CBP officer reduction and decrease in lanes from 10 to 8, UCP is performing in a substandard way. There is no news on when the personnel shortage will end, as immigration has taken center stage.
2/15/19 Average Standard crossing times were 104 minutes in January, higher than the average 95 minutes in November of 2017. FAST times under Unified Cargo Processing are 65 vs 52 minutes when comparing the same months.
September 2017 At the end of September 2017 SAT and CBP announced the launch of a Unified Cargo Processing option on the U.S. side of the OM POE. This will dramatically reduce wait times for qualifying CTPAT trucks (elimination of separate cargo inspections), and is the result of successful UCP systems in Arizona (Nogales, San Luis) and Calexico ports of entry.
January 2018 Unified Cargo Processing at Otay Mesa had a soft launch on December 22nd. It will also be implemented in Tecate. Most FAST trucks are using the system (Lawrence A. Fanning Assistant Port Director- Trade). They have had maximums of 1,333 per day and average crossing times of 20 minutes. Excess cargo being handled on Mexican side. May need 5 booths instead of 3. SBC has proposed way to monitor the results with Enrique Orantes of SAT and Rosa Hernandez and Pete Flores of CBP
Unified Cargo Processing Unified Cargo Processing started strongly in the last week of December and first 2 weeks of January, but it has had some hiccups due in part to 3 booths being used. DFO for Port has asked for another 2 booths and has gotten the OK from HQ. GSA is responsible for the actual manufacture. Have put a traffic control officer to move cargo to empty lanes. Our Commercial Crossing Information System tells us that the average time to cross using UCP from 2/1-2/28 was 70 minutes. This is above the average times for regular trucks which were 60 minutes on average. UCP is 40% of all cargo traffic.
3/1 As of 3/1, Joint Inspection of NARP (National Agricultural Release) products has concluded. SAT states that facility could be used to jointly inspect 39-40 companies.
The joint inspection facility The joint inspection facility in Tijuana is currently working with 39 companies from 7am to 10pm. Participating companies must be CTPAT/OEA and belong to various industries.
May 2018 Unified Cargo Processing continues to have challenges. CBP waiting for 2 additional booths – at issue is the long wait times at primary processing. SBC committed to sending a proposal to CBP and SAT to share real time data and analytics in April Cargo Group meeting.
Perishable goods Perishable goods trucks are no longer going through the old joint inspection facility in Mexico.
5/31 DFO Flores stated that Unified Cargo Processing has had a drastic improvement since April due to hybrid model whereby Mexican customs does primary inspection on their side. 7 FAST lanes open once trucks reach US side. Moved SAT inspection booths farther so that trucks do not block the entire lane on US side. 2 new booths will be added by end of July, so this should improve throughput.
6/27 Otay Port agents seeing large reduction in cargo crossing times with a hybrid UCP model. Still awaiting 2 additional booths.
8/20 Average wait times for cargo under Unified Cargo Processing are still long for FAST trucks: average of 93 minutes, 88 minutes for Standard trucks and 54 minutes for trucks going through join inspection on Mexican side.
November 2018 Average November 2018 wait times were 59 minutes for FAST truck and 150 minutes for Standard trucks. This compares to 66 minutes for FAST and 96 minutes for Standard trucks in November 2017.
Northbound truck cargo clearance presently undertaken at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry contributes to traffic back-ups and increased wait times.Proposed Solution
Enable advanced secure pre-inspection in Mexico at a distance from the border.Enablers
- City of Tijuana
- AIMO (Otay Mesa Industrial Association)
- AAA (Association of Customs Brokers)
- CANACAR (Carrier Association)
The ecport corridor continues to be a dangerous, dirty and unmanaged no man's land. No federal authority has taken it uppn itself to alleviate the issue. Smart Border Coalition convened the customs authority (ANAM), truck carrier industry (CANACAR), CBP, California Highway Patrol and the State Government of Baja California to review the situation on November 3, 2022.
ANAM chief Colonel Martinez stated that it is SEDENA which must manage that corridor. CANACAR has tried to create momentum by doing clean ups, but it is certainly not enough when the corridor is faced with people hiding drugs on trucks and undocumented people hopping onto trucks,
The State Government of Baja through the Economy and Innovation Secretariat has been helping by promoting the certification of companies that inspect for drugs and undocumented people hoppin on trucks.
It is important that a government entity take the lead on facilitating a converstation with the federal government on managing the corridor, just like it has happened with the right-of-way at the new Port of Otay Mesa East.
9/1/19 SBC met with new Consul General Gonzalez to request close collaboration to reactivate SAT led meetings to look for cargo solutions as well as interlocutors/liaisons at the federal level to have updated information about port and surrounding area projects. SCT, SAT, INDAABIN and INAMI generally have important roles to play along with the State’s Infrastructure and Urban Development Secretariat. Export corridor, Otay Mesa: INDAABIN, state and city are working closely with private landowner to donate right of way, expecting formal documents soon.
7/1/19 After former Aduanas General Administrator Ricardo Peralta was promoted to deputy Interior Minister, SAT has not called for additional bi-national meetings. There has been no word yet from the new SAT Administrator Ricardo Ahued.
5/9/19 Private property for the export corridor is available for donation to INDAABIN and subsequent assignment to SAT to manage. Land owner must provide documents to complete the donation, including power of attorney.
4/15/19 Though a full-fledged solution has not been publicly stated, there is a clear undertaking to create a SAT-managed export corridor (2.3 kms., 3 stages, $28 million peso investment), once and for all. Stages 2 and 3 have private property that has yet to be donated to INDAABIN). SIDUE is working on public registry information for 10 private lands involved and putting all legal docs together to by 4/22 to give to INDAABIN, who will review and begin donation process (owner is a business, Lina, S.A. de C.V.). Once in place donated land will be part of export corridor. FIDEMICA (SAT Fund) will potentially approve funds for this.
3/7/19 Local Development Council has taken leadership role. Will decide on executive project proposal (several options on the table). Project will get officially started in May 2019 and will be finished by mid-2021. SIDUE already provided current information on all land ownership status. 80% of all land is publically registered. Only one private property needs to be incorporated into corridor. INDAABIN started conversation with owner’s attorney this week. City and State will get involved. Property that City of Tijuana donated to INDAABIN has yet to be assigned to SAT for administration purposes. 2 working groups will start talks week of 3/11: one includes the National Customs Administration office (AGA), INDAABIN and GSA for land issues and another between AGA and CBP for operational needs.
2/28/19 There is renewed promise for funding for Secure Origins, the technology platform that has some track record on pre-clearance. If funding is achieved, this project would enhanced the revived Otay export corridor project, which is one of the SAT coordination group’s critical projects.
6/26/18 Call with GMX-21 to review feasibility to implement project starting in Laredo, Texas: based on my trip to Washington for the Border Trade Alliance meeting, there is substantial interest from CBP to work on a solution to pre-clear trucks on their way to the port from Mexico. Thomas Overacker, Executive Director of Cargo and Conveyance Security in the Office of Field Operations, is open to receiving proposals.
12/31/18 USMCA has a section on trade facilitation that treats pre-clearance favorably in that each party adopt or maintain “specific expedited customs procedures” for express shipments while maintaining appropriate customs controls. The procedures must provide for information required to release an express shipment to be submitted and processed before the shipment arrives, allow a single submission of information such as a manifest covering all goods contained in the shipment “through, if possible, electronic means” and provide for subject shipments, “under normal circumstances,” to be released immediately after arrival, as long as all required documentation and data are submitted.
SBC SBC believes that the region’s stakeholders need to attract solutions providers for this project.
Cargo Pre-Clearance Cargo Pre-Clearance has been put on hold. Performance of Unified Cargo Processing (UCP) will give us critical information for a pre-clearance need. Pre-clearance is a step above UCP and will dramatically help efficient lane management at the port (limited to 4 lanes today on the approach from Mexico).
Funding still not available to company that can implement this solution Funding still not available to company that can implement this solution. Possibility to implement Pre-clearance for CTPAT trucks and FAST drivers using SB 1228 funds (Senator Hueso). SBC will also work with SANDAG to better understand the current pre-clearance process that may be used at Otay Mesa II.
SBC’s Commercial Cargo Information System SBC’s Commercial Cargo Information System project is an important baseline to a Cargo Pre-Clearance solution. We require CBP and SAT go-ahead for this as well as carriers and exporters willing to provide GPS information from their cargo.
Unified Cargo Processing We view Unified Cargo Processing as part of full cargo pre-clearance solution that can alert authorities of any anomaly with FAST, regular or empty conveyances.
SAT Tijuana SAT Tijuana has achieved several positive results: hazardous materials schedule has more than doubled; 10 booths are now open for cargo inspection on U.S. side of the border.
INDAABIN Optimal use of the export corridor and adjoining streets once the export corridor parcel is donated to INDAABIN. INDAABIN will then provide basic services such as security, cleaning, lighting and maintenance to the 2 km road. SAT will plan a comprehensive project to convert the roadway into an authentic fast trade lane (video and technology infrastructure).
New northbound lanes leading to the San Ysidro Port of Entry in space made available in Mexico by clearing the disused “Puerta de México” structures.Proposed Solution
Understand time frame for Mexico to demolish the structure, as well as the scope of the lanes and access from Tijuana streets.
Develop a design proposal for submission to the City of Tijuana.
Puerta de Mexico update, 2022:
Puerta de Mexico was demolished in late 2019 to open up to 8 new lanes. Unfortunately, due to staffing challenges, CBP has not staffed these lanes. There has been a startup company that has proposed piloting a reservations system using some or all of these lanes, but no word yet from CBP.
No staffing is anticipated as of this time.
2/14/2020 We have no formal word yet on time frame (in December, Carlos Rascón, Works Resident from the Communications and Transportation Ministry, had stated that project would conclude in June of this year). Investment estimated at $40 million pesos ($2.1 million), 8 lanes (3.8 yard width), distance of 224 yards. There will also be a “Center for Traffic Control and Information” that will measure wait times using WiFi technology. Traffic information to be exchanged between countries.
11/1/19 Both CBP and GSA have informed us that Mexico will start on lanes in October and project should be done by mid-December. CBP will start using 4 lanes in November and another 4 lanes in December.
9/1/19 INDAABIN assured us that they continue to work with SCT on executive project, and that demolition will happen soon. Executive plan has been delivered by consulting company GC Ingeniería Civil. The aim is to have area ready to align with the opening of CBP lanes at SY POE in late October. SBC met with new Consul General Gonzalez to request close collaboration with SCT to keep tabs on status.
7/1/19 After former Aduanas General Administrator Ricardo Peralta was promoted to deputy Interior Minister, SAT has not called for additional bi-national meetings. There has been no word yet from the new SAT Administrator Ricardo Ahued.
5/9/19 Executive project under way, bid for tear down and build out will go out in June; project will be ready by October 15.
4/15/19 Executive project getting under way shortly, coordinated by SCT, will use bidding system. Demolition will occur in June. This is a 60-day project and has an approximate cost of $1.7 million pesos, according to SCT’s delegate in Baja California, Felipe Verdugo. The second phase of the project will include new pavement and return lane. City of Tijuana has given go-ahead to use street.
3/7/19 GSA, INDAABIN, and SAT have recently walked through area. SIDUE reported that both demolition and pavement are required. It is a $10 $12 million peso project. There will be one emergency lane for ambulance / firefighters. SCT will hire firm for executive project as soon as possible. INDAABIN will begin project analysis. The office of The National Customs Administrator sent SAT’s Director for Infrastructure and Equipment to site on 3/12 to determine all work needed. GSA’s work will be done by September. INDAABIN’s #2, Santiago Arenas Tamayo, National Works and Valuations Director, asked SIDUE and City of Tijuana to work with INDAABIN to donate a small piece of land and move vendor “island” to free up space. INAABIN will set up a small working group to make this happen.
2/15/19 Smart Border Coalition brought this subject up at the SAT Coordination Group’s meeting where Erika Garcia of SCT was in attendance. She was clear that this project was already planned and would be completed on time to complement the U.S. part which will be completed in October or November. SBC wrote letter to Garcia asking for details and will be seeing her on a frequent basis.
2/7/18 Meeting with Salvador Lamas, INDAABIN Director for Tijuana: coordinating with SAT and SCT to demolish the area. SCT and SAT are working directly on the project and must formally present it to INDAABIN. This is part of the “Conjunto El Chaparral” set of projects. The critical infrastructure will be the toll road from the Airport to Playas de Tijuana. It will have an exit to the 8 new lanes at SY POE. 6 lanes will empty into the 8 lanes on the western side of SY. The project has been awarded to a Spanish company which will begin construction this year ($80 million dollar investment). Asked Salvador for more information from boss, Fabiola Sanchez in Mexico City.
6/28/18 SBC spoke with Congressman Coronado, President of Baja Congress about approval of State insurance for toll road. There is no date yet.
6/25/18 SBC submitted letter to SCT delegate in Baja California asking him for current information, upcoming tasks and timeline for this project.
7/2/18 Meeting with SIDUE Secretary Alfonso Padrés and Strategic Projects Director Carlos Lopez to discuss infrastructure improvement initiatives that SBC is pursuing. Will now have more consistent and detailed information from SIDUE; SCT will also be better connected to SBC based on Secretary Padrés’s experience as head of SCT for Baja California.
7/19/18 State Government has $3 million pesos to invest. INDAABIN is facilitating the project to demolish buildings. SIDUE told us that the project will be ready to link the lanes to the modernized SY Port of Entry towards the end of 2019. The State Government is looking into the toll road from the airport but requires local Congress approval.
12/31/18 As of the end of the year, the local INDAABIN offices have no information about exact area, funding, timeline or potential RFP. SCT is coordinating this project through Yvonne Reul, SCT Deputy General Director of Cross Border Infrastructure.
Yvonne Reul, SCT Technical Director for Roads Yvonne Reul, SCT Technical Director for Roads and Highways, informed us in Mexico City on 4/16 that structures will be demolished 6 months after bid is awarded. Bidding process should start in May.
City of Tijuana (SDUE) City of Tijuana (SDUE) working on study for lane types and access; it will present it to CBP.
Meetings with CCE Meetings with CCE on 2/19 and with Governor’s chief strategist Mario Diaz on 2/16: The City of Tijuana is open to any solution for the 8 new lanes. They realize that the lanes will be open before the toll road coming from the Airport is put in place. Mario Diaz provided important information about the toll road project as well as Otay II and the modernization of the current port of Otay.
SBC will be working with CDT As part of new Binational Commission, SBC will be working with CDT to determine how best to use the 8 new lanes and submit a proposal to the City of Tijuana.
SBC is working with CDT SBC is working with CDT and the Mexican Consulate to open direct communication with both SIDUE and SCT, respectively, to obtain clear information as to any project for the 8 new Northbound lanes. It appears that SCT has a federally funded project that was going to be managed by SIDUE.
SBC asked Tijuana Mayor SBC asked Tijuana Mayor for input on 8 new Northbound lanes in November
Border Innovation ChallengeProposed Solution
The University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management and Jacobs School of Engineering, in partnership with the Smart Border Coalition, hosted a Border Innovation Challenge to address the difficulties facing the port of entries in the San Diego region. The aim of the challenge was to explore new solutions and technologies that will improve the security and efficiency at border crossings. The challenge awarded cash prizes totaling $20,000 to competition winners.
People and organizations on both sides of the border were asked to participate. The challenge was open to all UC San Diego students, faculty and staff as well as universities and entrepreneurship-focused groups in Baja California.
Entries to the Border Innovation Challenge were due April 22, with the competition held May 22, 2019.
The Coalition will follow up with the winners over the coming months, in conjunction with Rady School of Management and Jacobs School of Engineering.
- The Burnham Foundation
- SENTRE (sentre.com)
- VESTA (vesta.com.mx)
- Gustavo A. De La Fuente
- Smart Border Coalition
- Sempra Eneregy (sempra.com)
- Baker McKenzie (bakermckenzie.com)
- El Florido Industrial Park (florido.com)
Border Innovation Challenge for 2022:
The Challenge continues in 2022 with a late August launch and a December 1st event to choose the first three places.
To see the event description, please see:
For additional information from Event Brite, please see the following link:
Border Innovation Challenge for 2020 Rady School of Management and the Coalition teamed up once again this year to launch the challenge. We received fewer applications this time and did the event entirely virtually in December of 2020. We decided to create a more comprehensive event for 2022. Please see a full description of the finalists in the following article: https://smartbordercoalition.com/blog/in-the-news/the-2020-border-innovation-challenge For the full event, pease see the attached video url.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95gaqxNpgas
Border Innovation Challenge The Competition concluded on May 22, 2019. There were 3 winners: 1st Prize, $10,000: "Dynamic Border Project" - Curbside Labs, Inc. and Cheslav Versky. 2nd Prize, $7,500: "Cross Border Booking System" (CBBS), by Hector Rodriguez Calderon and Jose Trevino Bustamante. Audience Favorite, $2,500: EMS Tracking, by Mauricio de Oliveira, Carlos Vera, Eva Tovar and Andres Smith. Two other groups were finalists: "Automate the collection of border wait time data and process it for real time statistics", by Inercy (Luis Lomeli, Daniel Aguirre, Zaida Burrola, and David Saldana). "Evolutionary Sensors: a machine learning SoC for IoT sensor systems", by Leonardo Trujillo, Yazmin Maldonado, and Carlos Goribar.
Car owners with personal SENTRI status have experienced excessive delays in obtaining SENTRI approval for new vehicles.Proposed Solution
Eliminate vetting for new SENTRI car approval.Enablers
SENTRI Car appointments, 2021-2022:
The SENTRI car vetting process is still quite backlogged (52-53 weeks) due to the pandemic and the fact that there is not enough personnel. There are cases of people traveling to LAX and the San Francisco Airport to obtain appointments to get a Global Entry card. Appotintments occur frequently, with little backlog.
Our coalition sent a letter to CBP second in command Anne Maricich in September 2022 asking the agency to either move officers from airports such as LAX and San Francisco or streamline the interview process by doing most tasks online so that the in-person interview becomes a brief, even perfunctory exercise. In October of 2022 CBP added 30% more staff to the Otay group that vets travelers so that they can add another 600 appointments each month.
2/11/2020 As of 2/11/2020: backlog is 2 weeks; 6 months for Global Entry.
11/1/19 As of 11/1/19: backlog is 6 weeks.
8/13/2018 As of 8/13/2018, backlog is 2 weeks.
7/1/2019 As of 7/1/2019, backlog is 2-3 weeks.
5/1/2019 As of 5/1/2019, backlog is 3 weeks
2/12/19 As of 2/12/19, backlog is 5 weeks.
11/13 As of 11/13, backlog is 1 week.
10/18 As of 10/18, backlog is 6 weeks.
8/14/18 As of 8/14/18, backlog is 2.5 weeks.
6/12 As of 6/12, backlog is at 9 weeks.
4/3 As of 4/3, backlog is at 2 weeks
2/13/18 As of 2/13/18, backlog for new vehicle vetting is 1 week. Local CBP has been helping federal CBP for screening. SENTRI new enrollment now at 3 weeks. GLOBAL entry new enrollment now at 2 weeks.
DFO Pete Flores DFO Pete Flores communicated to us on 8/14 they are now working locally on the backlog.
3/20 SBC delivered letter on 3/20 and Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce did same the week of 4/3.
Complex design, permitting, operational, construction, and financial decisions remain to be made to allow for railroad to cross from Mexico to the United States in Tecate.Proposed Solution
The critical breakthrough will be to Customs and Border Protection authorization of the opening of a port of entry where track will cross, including an inspection mechanism, either side by side with Mexican agents or in separate areas on adjacent sides of the rail border.Enablers
- Baja Rail
- Mexican Consulate
Recent Developments with Tecate Rail (2021-2022):
Unfortunately, this is a project that despite our best efforts working with Baja Rail, speaking with their executive director and owner, MTS in San Diego, and a financial services company supporting Baja Rail, the project still has not gotten off the ground. There are various things that our readers must keep in mind:
1. In 2021 MTS officially put a stop to the lease contract with Baja Rail based on the transportation system's belief that Baja Rail was not justified in not paying its lease in the years 2020 and 2021. Both organizations went into mediaton in the fall of 2020, but no breakthrough happened.
2. On several occasions the Coalition's Executive Director and several of its board members discussed a plan forward, arriving at the conclusion that if MTS and Baja Rail cannot agree on moving forward, it is best to run a feasibility study paid for by Caltrans (Caltrans obtained a grant in late April of 2022 for use in a study of this nature), and if results are positive, have Caltrans and a financial services company package the deal and put in front of well heeled investors and/or larger operators such as BNSF or Ferromex.
3. The Coalition established a connection with the COO of Ferromex in 2021 to evaluate their interest. There is some interest but there is also a need to package a financial deal good for Baja Rail and for Ferromex. This effort did not continue.
2/11/2020 It was agreed that ADMICARGA and Baja Rail would TOGETHER go to SAT to present the finished executive plan and get formal FINAL authorization for the project. Baja Rail also renewed conversations with MTS to get approval.
11/1/19 Baja Rail CEO Roberto Romandía stated that Baja Rail is working on executive plan to present to SAT very soon. Sites have been approved on both sides of the border. They have agreed to U.S. financing. Equipment used on both sides has also been approved. There has been slow progress, however, due to government transition.
9/1/19 SBC opened conversation with Consul General Gonzalez about this topic. In meeting with Baja Rail on 8/20/19, SAT has authorized the location of the inspection equipment in Tecate and CBP is close to making a decision. Financing for the Desert Line rehabilitation is almost complete. This would allow work to begin in a matter of weeks.
7/1/19 CBP decided that inspection equipment must be on the U.S. side of the border and that MTS will be the agency in charge of leading this effort. There may be a need to reopen conversations with Mexican SRE and SAT to meet with U.S. authorities to reconsider.
5/9/19 Baja Rail submitted counterproposal to CBP asking for inspection technology to be placed on Mexican side and sharing this knowledge electronically with CBP. Awaiting response.
4/15/19 SAT’s conclusion is that the most viable option will be for each country to have a separate inspection facility. What is still subject to discussion is where non-intrusive inspection equipment (X-Rays, Gamma Rays) will be. SAT’s equipment Administrator will send proposal to CBP.
3/7/19 CBP is convinced that Unified Cargo Processing works, but CBP will not accept a joint inspection area on the Mexican side of the border. A Mexican location does not fulfill the agency’s security requirements. Ricardo Peralta, National Customs Director, assigned the project to Sean Cázares, International Affairs Director for SHCP (IRS). He will meet with CBP team next week to make a decision about a U.S. location(s) to build the inspection station. Baja Rail stated they had an excellent meeting with BANCOMEXT on Tuesday 3/5 for the $52 million USD financing.
2/20/19 Baja Rail still working with options to generate environmental study and is also approaching funding sources. It is likely the company will need strong lobbying at the federal level to give the project the importance it deserves and make sure the inspection locations and procedures are defined once and for all.
11/8 SAT has authorized the crossing location. Baja Rail could start construction in March of 2019 but needs to conclude an environmental study and get CBP approval. DFO Flores will not make any decisions until he sees the environmental study results, among others.
11/2 Baja Rail is working with 2 firms for analyses that are a prerequisite for any port authorization in Tecate. One is a firm with legal expertise on environmental issues and the other is a company that specializes in environmental biology aspects (flora and fauna).
8/30/18 Still need CBP to formally approve crossing point and inspection area locations. Environmental impact seems to be an important issue though the concessionaire does not intend to change the current route in any way. There are a number of environmental studies done on the subject, so no sense in investing time and money on another one. State of Baja California is actively pursuing conversations with SAT for Mexican side location and go ahead. Region’s stakeholders must support this initiative.
7/12/18 Jorge Izquierdo of Baja Rail stated that Plan B will be to set up Primary (about 700 feet from the border) and Secondary (6 miles from the border at Campo, CA) processing facilities and one Mexican inspection facility.
6/25 Roberto Romandia, CEO of Baja Rail, stated that there will be 2 inspection stations, one for Mexico and 1 for U.S. Near term decision for location of US facility (MTS, SAT and CBP). Feasibility studies already concluded for tunnels, railway and bridges. Next step is financial feasibility. Total investment will be $52 million. Will start using own capital and are looking for financing / equity among 3 groups.
Meetings in Mexico City Meetings in Mexico City as part of SD Regional Chamber of Commerce Delegation. Baja Rail provided most current information about the project to Mexican Foreign Ministry (SRE), asked SAT for more decision making involvement in inspection station. Secured Baja Rail project presentation at June meeting of Binational Bridges and Border Crossings Group (BBBXG). SAT committed to project follow up; Baja Rail asked SAT’s technical opinion about the project’s overall design and inspection machinery. SAT asked for project timeline and will be visiting Desert Line’s offices in June.
Baja Rail Baja Rail is leaning towards having inspection stations in Mexico and United States.
Meetings with MTS Meetings with MTS, CBP, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern in Coahuila and Tamaulipas (Piedras Negras and Laredo) shed light on customs operations, infrastructure review, efficient joint rail inspections, installed capacity, time frames and opportunity areas.
Campo meeting in February Campo meeting in February with DHS and CBP resulted in a decision to put the joint inspection facility on the U.S. side, increasing the investment that Baja Rail will have to make.
Baja Rail Baja Rail moving additional commodities; has federal permits for El Sauzal line; LOIs signed with Chinese company for the construction of an industrial park served by the RR and with naval company at El Sauzal port. 2018 topics are resolving Joint Inspection facility (JIF) location either in Mexico or US and greater involvement by State of Baja Government. Once JIF is resolved, Baja Rail will start building to fulfill milestones (1.6 years). Will push for new RR in Mexicali for Silicon Border and another one for Constellation Brands.
New RR in Mexicali for Silicon Border Will push for new RR in Mexicali for Silicon Border and another one for Constellation Brands.
Interministerial meetings in Hermosillo Interministerial meetings in Hermosillo on 10/25 revived Plan A for a joint inspection facility in Tecate, Mexico and Plan B for a joint inspection facility on the U.S. side of the border. Both the State of BC (head of Cabinet Coordination for Strategic Projects, Mario Díaz) as well as the Mexican Foreign Ministry are pulling for Plan B. Critical for MTS to support Baja Rail in this effort.
The State of Baja California The State of Baja California through SIDUE (Carlos Alfaro in charge of Special Projects) and Admicarga (Architect Maceira) are involved in any interaction with CBP and SAT. Baja Rail would like to involve Carlo Bonfante, Economic Development Secretary.
9/1/17 On 9/1/17 Baja Rail (BJRR) made a $3.8 million payment on the $7-million concession for Desert Line. $60 million investment will be needed in infrastructure on US side of the border. Baja California state government has acquired 40% of the land required for the Tecate-Ensenada (El Sauzal) line (98 km). A Chinese company, CRCC, may participate in the construction of the line to Ensenada. Thirty-four km of line will be built to serve the new Tecate brewery facilities.
Baja Rail Baja Rail officially acquired the Desert Line Concession on July 28 (at Federal Bankruptcy Court).
U.S. Green Card holders residing in Mexico are limited to using slower all-traffic lanes, contributing to congestion in these lanes.Proposed Solution
Promote awareness among Green Card holders crossing into the U.S. at the border of the advantages of commuter status, through targeted information initiatives.Enablers
- Otay Mesa Chamber
- Private enterprise
Commuter Initiative 2019-2020:
The Smart Border Coalition spent 2017 and 2018 speaking with CBP and some employers in the Otay Mesa area. We created a presentation that walked people through the actions they need to take to get it. We decided to discontinue this initiative for the following reasons:
1. The Commuter program has a cost above $400, which makes it prohibitively expensive for individuals to absorb the cost.
2. The Program makes the applicant stop his/her citizenship process. Most people do not want to do this, as they have been waiting for years in many cases to obtain citizenship ana are also doing it to emigrate other family members.
3. The process to become a commuter is long and complex. The forms that need to be completed are long and not straightforward, so most commuters will need professional support (CBP officers and immigration attorneys) to have them fill the forms correctly.
Unless the program is streamlined and its cost is reduced, we do not see it being successful.
2020 SBC will not pursue this program given new priorities at US Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) and to a lesser extent CBP. USCIS has not had a budget for program promotion in the last 3 years.
2/28/19 SBC has not pursued this program given that there is little incentive at CBP and at US Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) to spend time on it. USCIS does not seem to have a budget to promote it.
10/31/18 October 2018: SBC completed media campaign with 15 media outlets including Uniradio, Telemundo, PST and InfoBaja. Social media promotion began on November 1st.
August 2018 August 2018: Media campaign will start in September in Tijuana. We will work with 4 Comunicación marketing company.
6/29/18 6/29/18: CDT, CDT board member and SBC are jointly working on execution strategy which will be ready in July.
CBP internally discussing CBP internally discussing messaging they want to provide based on video we created for them (with Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce).
Collaboration with Mexican Consulate Collaboration with Mexican Consulate: we will be invited to the Consulate’s Community Outreach days starting in March. SBC has not yet provided promotional materials to Consulate for promotion. Some of this will depend on CBP direction.
Still working with CDT We are still working with CDT to launch a promotional program in Tijuana through the CDT’s Binational Commission.
3/5 Meeting with Sally Carrillo to move forward with video and action items on US side of the border.
2/28/18 As of 2/28/18 we are working on a strategy to promote the program on the Mexican side of the border with CDT in the context of the Binational Commission which SBC is leading: use of flyers, leveraging COTUCO, SECTURE, Hospitals and resorts will be critical.
Otay Mesa East Port of EntryProposed Solution
This new port, dubbed the "First 21st Century Port", will be an innovative way to cross the border. It will be tolled, and its revenue will be shared between Mexico and the US. Initially, it will have 5 lanes going Northbound and 5 Southbound. However, lane types and number will change according to traffic patterns. Lanes will also be reversible.Enablers
- Smart Border Coalition
Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Progress in 2022:
The Otay Mesa East Port of Entry has started its first phase of construction as of Aygust 22, 2022. The U.S. side has finished building all the highway connectors to the port and in its vicinity.
Importantly, SANDAG has obtiained needed grants from the US federal government (Department of Transportation) to the tune of $150 million, However, the need to finish the port is closer to $500 million. SANDAG has asked non-profit organizations like the Smart Border Coalition to sign letters to the California Transportation Commission for its TCEP grant application.
Our coalition has been active with Caltrans to create awareness for the progress made so far.
Governments of Mexico and the US have agreed on a revenue sharing model. However, it has been challenging for SANDAG to convince rating agencies of the need to give the project the risk assessment it deserves.
Through our contacts with the State Government of Baja Califormia, State Governor Marina del Pilar Avila has been meeting monthly with SEDENA captains our area to monitor progress. Over 90% pf all the right-of-way in Mexico has been agreed to with parcel owners. The Mexican federal government will pay for the port through the SAT fund and will likely bid out the road project leading to the port. Though Governor Avila is coordinating Mexican side work, she has designated Kurt Honold, Economy and Innovation Secretary, as the point person for the port project.
In my capacity as international project office lead for the Baja California Government, I am in a position to understand what is happening with this new port.
SR 11 / Otay Mesa East overview An in-depth look at the SR 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project - an innovative, binational infrastructure effort that will enhance regional mobility and trade.https://youtu.be/OvgEsTRGa0Y