Plans are moving forward on a new pedestrian bridge that will connect Otay Mesa to the Tijuana airport.
U.S. and Mexico federal agencies and officials are working on five major steps so that construction can start on the project that will act as a port of entry, and allow travelers faster access to and from the Tijuana International Airport.
According to a high-ranking executive helping to lead the project, a staffing agreement is being entered into with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; diplomatic notes between U.S. and Mexico departments of state are being exchanged and secured; a Mexican Federal Communications and Transport Department license is being finalized; an agreement with the Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE: PAC), which operates and administers the Tijuana Airport, is being completed; and building permits need to be approved by the San Diego City Council so that a general contractor can be hired.
For the last four-plus years, private investors on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have been working to get a pedestrian bridge and facilities for land port of entries built.
Equity Group Investments, a private company based out of Chicago, and several individual investors in Mexico are financing construction of a 525-foot-long pedestrian bridge that will go from Otay Mesa directly over the border and into Tijuana's airport.
The private investment group’s name is Otay-Tijuana Venture LLC.
In January, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved land-use permits and an environmental impact report for the pedestrian port of entry.
These will be used to construct an approximately 95,000-square-foot facility on the U.S. side that will feature retail shops, a gathering area, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection area for those entering from Mexico.
The City Council also approved permits for the future construction of a hotel, parking structure and commercial development on the U.S. side of the border.
The City Council also suggested it would like to see an iconic design or a feature that would make the pedestrian port of entry standout.
But at this point, no changes have been made because of this suggestion.
The project also calls for improvements to be made to the Tijuana airport so that Mexican customs can verify foreign travelers heading into Mexico.
The Otay Mesa-Tijuana airport cross-border facility has already received a presidential permit from the U.S. federal government, which was awarded more than a year ago.
This permit deems the project to be in the country’s interest. The project has also received approval from approximately 20 U.S. federal and state government agencies.
The entire project is estimated at $78 million, which includes the acquisition of the 55-acre parcel on the U.S. side.
It has also been said that there will be a toll to use the bridge, so that investors can get a return on their investment. The exact amount of the toll has not yet been decided.
The idea behind this only border crossing is to alleviate the wait-time of travelers who are going to and from the Tijuana airport, and want to avoid the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry.
The high-ranking official helping lead the project said he expects the project to break ground by the end of this year. The pedestrian bridge land port of entry is scheduled to take 12 months to complete.
There is not an official name for the new border crossing project, but it is believed various names are being proposed and an official title will be placed on the project.
It is estimated that the San Diego-Tijuana Airport Cross-Border Facility will serve more than 2 million passengers per year.