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A Mexican Foreign Ministry told U-T San Diego that said leaving the current Puerta México port of entry open when the new El Chaparral port of entry is finished in Tijuana this fall "is not an option."
Many border business and government officials still hope Puerta México will be left open as a safety valve in case the jury-rigged, 300-meter connection Mexico plans to El Chaparral south of the border fence gets backed up. The United States does not plan to complete its rerouting of Interstate 5 for a direct, permanent connection to the new port for several years.
Sean Carlos Cázares Ahearne, deputy director general of border affairs for the ministry, told the paper that El Chaparral "will begin operations as soon as the port is finished in October." Mexico is planning a five-lane connection south of the border fence from where I-5 ends. I-5 has six lanes at that point, and the connection will involve a curve or right turn that may slow traffic. Cázares pointed to a transportation ministry report that estimated a peak waiting time of 29 minutes on an average day and a wait slightly more than 45 minutes in a worst-case scenario.
Mexican and U.S. officials are negotiating over how the connection to El Chaparral will be put in place. It will entail the closure of the existing pedestrian crossing at San Ysidro.
Story, U-T San Diego, with downloadable PDF map (which does not show new eastern pedestrian crossing and that current pedestrian crossing will be closed as a result of building connection to El Chaparral)
Update, June 12: Tijuana Congressman Francisco Vega says he hopes Foreign Ministry will issue a new diplomatic letter saying that it will not close Puerta México in the fall, unless El Chaparral is operating at 100%. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, June 14: Business Coordination Council President Mario Escobedo Carignan complains that federal officials are not taking businesses' concerns into account in their decisions about the port of entry. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, June 17: Luis Torres, the federal customs administrator in Tijuana, said he thought that traffic would flow well to El Chaparral, going from six Interstate 5 lanes to a curve ending in five lanes south of the border fence but then going to 10 and then 22 inspection lanes at the new port of entry. Story, Frontera (PDF).
May 31 story: GSA official Ramon Riesgo says agency may try to speed up construction of permanent I-5 connection to El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana
May 26 story: GSA looking into how to help Mexico connect to El Chaparral.