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Major Renovation of San Ysidro Port of Entry Under Way

Wed February 17, 2010 - West Edition
Erik Pisor

Serving an estimated 50,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 northbound pedestrians a day, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry is considered the busiest land port of entry in the world.

Located between San Diego and Tijuana, the port currently supports 24 northbound vehicle lanes into the United States and six southbound lanes into Mexico. However the 30-year-old facility is aging and unable to handle future increases in vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Recognizing the need for a complete renovation of the San Ysidro port, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) — along with a handful of other partners — began an estimated $577 million expansion project in December 2009.

“GSA has been hard at work for years planning for the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. It is without a doubt GSA’s largest border project,” said Gene Gibson, regional public affairs officer of GSA. “This project will ensure that U.S. Customers and Border Protection can more efficiently handle the nation’s busiest cross-border traffic, while at the same time heightening the security at the facility.”

The expansion and renovation project will be managed in three phases, which includes the demolition of the existing port of entry; the widening of the northbound inspection area; and the installation of up to 60 new primary inspection booths.

The project also involves the construction of a number of new structures and buildings, including primary and secondary inspection facilities, an administration building, a headhouse, a pedestrian inspection facility, several pedestrian bridges and a southbound inspection facility.

“It is a massive project with so many moving parts,” Gibson said.

The first portion of phase One construction, which began in late 2009, includes the demolition of the old pedestrian bridge; and the construction of a new East/West pedestrian bridge and five level employee parking structure.

Construction of the $11.5 million pedestrian bridge was awarded to the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Clark Construction Group, who began work in December 2009.

When completed, the pedestrian bridge will cross over Interstate 5 and the port of entry, between the San Ysidro Intermodal Transportation Center and Camino de la Plaza, and connect to Camino de la Plaza from a bridge landing, which will include a pedestrian ramp.

A staircase also will be constructed at the eastern end of the bridge, connecting to the San Ysidro Intermodal Transit Center, and a pedestrian walkway will be built, according to a GSA project summary contained within the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) statement.

The existing pedestrian bridge will remain accessible to pedestrians during construction, but will be demolished after completion of the new bridge.

To the west of southbound Interstate 5, a 300-parking space, five-story employee parking structure will be constructed, along with a staff pedestrian bridge that will connect the parking structure to the operations center.

Construction of the staff bridge will require the demolition of the former U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) building and the reconfiguration of the Camiones Way turn-around.

Following construction of the staff bridge, the existing parking lot bridge will be demolished. According to Gibson the remaining portions of phase one construction will begin in the summer of 2010.

These portions include constructing six new northbound primary vehicle inspection lanes; demolishing the existing northbound secondary inspection area; and building a new secondary inspection and operations center island.

The new secondary inspection area would contain up to 35 inspection spaces and up to 19 inspection booths. North of the secondary inspection area, an approximately 2,700 sq. ft. auto seizure building and impound facility would be constructed.

A new, 50,000 sq. ft. operations center building and 24,000 sq. ft. central plant also will be constructed immediately east of the secondary inspection area. The existing central plant, which houses electrical and mechanical equipment, will be demolished following construction of the new plant.

Completion of all phase one work currently is planned for mid-2015, due to the delay in procuring the remaining construction funds for phase two and three, Gibson said, adding GSA is looking at overlapping construction phases to allow earlier project completion.

As of fiscal year 2009, $293 million in funding had been approved for the project. Phase

two of the port expansion project is slated to include the demolition of the existing pedestrian building and the construction of a new administration and pedestrian building.

The new structure will encompass approximately 100,000 sq. ft. and include an approximately 20,000 sq. ft. underground detention facility. Additionally, a new North/South pedestrian ramp will be constructed.

During phase three construction will focus on reconfiguring the southbound facilities so that they connect with Mexico’s planned El Chaparral facility.

Proposed portions of the reconfiguration include: the construction of new secondary inspection areas lanes; the renovation of the existing primary southbound inspection area; the construction a new southbound roadway, at the terminus of southbound I-5; and the construction of a new southbound pedestrian crossing facility. A number of existing structures also are slated to be demolished.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, Federal Highway Administration, California Department of Transportation, the nation of Mexico, the City of San Diego, and the City of Tijuana are all project partners who will work with GSA throughout the project.

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