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$216 million for San Ysidro port in new budget

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Chula Vista) announced Wednesday that $216 million for the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Modernization and Expansion Project was included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget released by President Barack Obama.

The allocation, which must be approved by Congress, would fund Phase 2 of the project.

The initial phase, which is slated to be completed in September, includes relocating secondary operations facilities and installing temporary utilities, constructing an 806-foot-long pedestrian bridge, building an administration building and pedestrian walkway over the current primary inspection lanes, and building three 100-foot masts to extend from a 780-foot canopy that will cover lanes of traffic going into the United States.

The second and third phases to complete the work would include nine more northbound lanes (for a total of 34 lanes), adding northbound walkways, constructing pedestrian inspection facilities with added booths, adding a new plaza adjacent to the trolley station and moving Interstate 5 westward.

“I am thrilled President Obama continued to recognize the critical importance of border infrastructure to the overall growth and sustainability of our country,” said Vargas in a statement. “The San Ysidro Port of Entry is an undeniable economic engine for the San Diego border region and the nation. The funding in the president’s budget will allow for the construction of an efficient border, which will stimulate commerce, create jobs, and increase productivity.”

Earlier this year the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Modernization and Expansion Project received $226 million in funding in the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill. It is now up to Congress, through the appropriations process, to decide whether to fulfill the president’s FY 2015 budget request as well.

“Revitalizing and modernizing this key transportation hub will speed transit for more than 11 million cars, 8 million pedestrians and tens of thousands of buses each year. I intend to work with my Senate colleagues to ensure this project is fully funded by Congress,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“Border funding and infrastructure is a top priority for the San Diego Chamber because of the economic impact to the mega region,” added Jerry Sanders, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “Infrastructure plays a vital role in facilitating international commerce -- a critical component in our global competitiveness. We are committed to working together with Rep. Vargas and other business and community leaders just as we did earlier this year when we advocated for Phase 3 funding.”

“This is the infrastructure project that keeps on giving as it will inject billions of dollars into our economy and create jobs,” said Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego). "The president and our local delegation understand that boosting the middle class means investing in our infrastructure.”

In the coming months, Vargas, in conjunction with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, plans to lead a working group with other stakeholders to organize a collaborative strategy to ensure the approval of funds through the House and Senate budget process.

The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry serves more than 50,000 vehicles and approximately 25,000 pedestrian crossings coming into the country every day. In a 2007 study, the San Diego Association of Governments estimated that delays due to border wait times cost cross-border economies $7.2 billion in lost gross output and more than 62,000 jobs.

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