A final $17.9 million in stimulus grant-funded road work is getting underway near San Diego, as part of a huge project to untangle congestion for a heavily used truck corridor serving the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined state and local officials Tuesday in breaking ground on the last piece of the SR-905/I-805 Interchange project. It is designed to remake a 6.3-mile section of State Route 905 from a series of slower surface streets into a freeway that will allow commercial trucks to separate from local traffic and move quickly to the port area.
"This project will not only create jobs in southern San Diego County today but will help lay the foundation for a prosperous future in southern California," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The interchange project will strengthen both the local and regional economies by helping meet the tremendous current and future demand” for that port, he said.
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Otay Mesa sits opposite the manufacturing center of Tijuana, Mexico. It handles the highest dollar volume of trade among all U.S. land ports, the Department of Transportation said, and the second highest volume of commercial trucks.
But the busy port connecting California with Mexico’s Baja California currently has just Otay Mesa Road, a six-lane street of local and through traffic, as its only access route. That, said the DOT, leads to “massive traffic congestion, and cost and delay for commercial shipments.”
About half of the 68,000 daily drivers on Otay Mesa Road are moving to and from the Port of Entry, and that volume is projected to nearly triple by 2025.
This overall interchange project is costing $438 million in all, and when completed in 2012 will split its international from local traffic that keeps using Otay Mesa Road. That work is also part of a $1 billion set of projects that includes the San Ysidro Port of Entry area less than six miles away, adding new lanes and widening ramps to smooth traffic across southern San Diego County.
Mendez said the Otay Mesa work, years in the planning, could not have been completed without stimulus funds. "By putting people back to work and improving a key roadway along one of the nation's most critical commercial routes, we are making a long-term investment not only in the safety of drivers in southern California but also in the state's overall economy."