This binational space that connects the Tijuana airport with Otay Mesa is expanding.
The Cross Border Xpress, or CBX, binational terminal will double its northbound lanes inside their border inspection facility in 2020 in response to increased passenger demand.
By November of next year, CBX will go from 4 to 8 double-stacked booths for a total of 16 inspection lines available for processing travelers arriving from the Tijuana International Airport to Otay Mesa through the pedestrian bridge.
“We want to make sure that the growth we have is in line with the infrastructure that CBX has, which is our basic promise of customer service,” said Jorge Goytortúa, executive director of the terminal Cross Border Xpress (CBX).
From January to June 2019, there has been a 32 percent increase in the number of users who use the border crossing. It is estimated that CBX will close the year with about 2.9 million passengers, Goytortúa said. By comparison, in 2018 the terminal provided service to 2.2 million people.
About 87 percent of users say they waited less than 15 minutes to enter the country and 98 percent waited for less than half an hour, according to CBX records. But border wait times may vary in peak travel seasons such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break or holiday weekends.
"(We are) getting ahead of ourselves to have the necessary infrastructure for the times when people travel a lot more,” said Goytortúa.
The new facilities will have the capacity to process an average of 20,000 people per day. An average of 8,300 passengers take the crossborder terminal on a typical day and an average of 14,000 on a peak day, according to CBX.
However, it is up to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine how many officers are assigned to this border crossing. CBP said they don’t release staffing numbers by individual border crossing.
This expansion at its border inspection area is one of three stages as part of a bigger expansion project that will conclude next year.
The first consists of an expansion from three to six accesses in the lobby that connects to the bridge in the direction of Tijuana airport. This remodeling will be completed in the coming weeks just in time for the Thanksgiving season.
Subsequently, a facility with space for nine women’s and six men’s restrooms will be built just outside the arrivals area, which will be ready in the summer of 2020.
The development of the binational terminal that started operating four years ago has been praised by business leaders.
“The fact that they are opening more lanes means that people are going to wait much less time to use this service, so it’s something very important,” said Alejandra Mier y Terán, director of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
“We think it’s great that a project that has given you so much in the Otay Mesa area is growing.”
Through a 390-feet long skybridge, ticketed passengers can easily cross to the airport or terminal at the other side of the border.
The expansion is also part of a master development plan to open hotels, gas stations, a business center and a parking building right next to the terminal in Otay Mesa, said Goytortúa. If all goes according to plan, construction could begin in 2021.
Article by: The San Diego Union Tribune | Alexandra Mendoza | October 20
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