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Project to connect I-805 with new port of entry in second phase of construction

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The expansion of State Route 905 keeps on rolling as the second phase of this project has just started.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) broke ground on Phase 1B of the SR-905 expansion project at the end of May. This phase involves building 3 miles of six lanes from Britannia Boulevard to Interstate 805 with an interchange at Caliente Avenue, and new off-ramps at Britannia Boulevard.

According to Caltrans officials, this phase of the $76.8 million project is one of the first transportation projects in the state funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is expected to generate an estimated 1,400 jobs -- thanks to $74.3 million in funding for this segment from federal economic stimulus dollars.

"This project provides a shot in the arm for our economy and puts Californians back to work," said Caltrans District 11 Director Pedro Orso-Delgado, who covers San Diego and Imperial counties. "It's a great example of how quickly and effectively we are getting Recovery Act dollars out on the street to create jobs and invest in our state's future."

The rest of the money for Phase 1B will come from Federal Demonstration funds ($2.1 million) and SANDAG's TransNet half-cent sales tax.

California will receive nearly $2.6 billion in stimulus funding for highways and local streets, and $1 billion for transit projects. In addition, California is the first state in the nation to obligate $1 billion of Recovery Act funding for highways and local streets.

Phase 1B is slated to be finished by the summer of 2012.

Due to escalated costs, Phase 1 was split into two parts.

Phase 1A of the expansion started in April 2008 and includes roadwork done from the eastern segment of SR-905 from Siempre Viva Road to Britannia Boulevard. This phase will also involve improvements at Sanyo Avenue, Otay Mesa Road, Harvest Road and Airway Road.

Phase 1A is expected to be completed by late 2010.

Three other phases for the expansion of SR-905 include improvement to the 805/905 interchange, construction of a 125/905 interchange and construction of a Heritage Road interchange.

When complete, the SR-905 project will add 8 miles of new freeway space from I-805 to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and the proposed port of entry east of the Otay POE.

The entire cost of the SR-905 expansion project is estimated at $620 million. It is still unknown where the funds for the other three phases will come from at this time.

The expansion of SR-905 is being done to improve motorist safety and provide efficient transportation of goods along the U.S. and Mexico border.

According to Caltrans, annual trade between California and Baja California totals more than $35 billion, and border ports of entry process more than 2 million trucks each year -- a figure expected to double within the next decade.

Skanska USA is the general contractor on the project, and Caltrans engineered and designed the freeway.

Major subcontractors include Atlas Fence Co., Fontana Steel for rebar, Coffman Specialties for concrete paving, Diversified Landscape Co. for erosion control, irrigation and landscaping; Dywidag Systems International for pre-stressing, Modern Alloys Inc. for metal beam, guard rail and sign structures; and Select Electric.

In October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation backing construction of a toll way and border crossing east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

At that time, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said it meant construction of the long-awaited crossing, along with a 2-mile toll road, could start within three years. Officials say toll fees would cover the $800 million cost.

The additional crossing is expected to ease travel and trade between the United States and Mexico. Northbound traffic can back up for 90 minutes or more at the existing San Ysidro crossing.

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