The San Ysidro control booth, located between Tijuana, Mexico and San Ysidro, California is the world’s busiest migration control booth. Nevertheless, its operation is complicated by a lack of appropriate infrastructure, which causes problems for workers that cross the border every day. In this context, Mexican initiatives to create alternative crossing points have begun emerge.
Fabián Torres, Member, Mexican Companies of the Construction Industry in Tijuana, Tecate and Rosarito (COMICE TTR) said it would be a major benefit to create an alternative for current cross-border mobility infrastructure, though it should accomodate intermodal transportation. He added that most proposals come from Mexico, which suffers more from heavy traffic.
Among other projects, the viability of a light rail project is currently being studied. According to Torres, the rail’s developer could use the existing railway at the San Ysidro control booth.
Torres also said that the government is planning to develop a cross-border bicycle lane, but warned that it is important to coordinate efforts between the US and Mexico to avoid delays. According to Torres, changes in administrations at the three levels of government usually lead to changes in the technical personnel, meaning these teams must start over again. “We must be careful with technicians that are carrying out those projects, to maintain their jobs during the whole project, especially in the negotiation and planning phases,” Torres pointed out.
Gustavo De la Fuente, Director General, Smart Border Coalition laments that there are no short-term bilateral projects to modernize the San Ysidro control booth. He was also displeased that pedestrian infrastructure has been neglected. To solve the challenges at the booth, coordination between all levels of Mexico’s government and the US authorities is essential.
De la Fuente said that most projects that could solve congestion issues are focused on mobility and are for the long term like a ferry from Ensenada to San Diego, an interurban train from Ensenada to San Ysidro and a metro from Tijuana to San Ysidro, among other projects in the planning phase.
In 2019, the US General Services Administration (GSA) announced an investment of US$731 million to modernize border infrastructure, but some experts argue that this is not sufficient: on the Mexican side, more activity occurs even though infrastructure has been developed the least.