Officials From Both Sides Of Border Celebrate Opening Of Second Gateway
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ U.S. and Mexican officials gathered on a dusty mesa to celebrate the opening of the Otay Mesa border station, culminating a 17-year effort to build a second gateway between San Diego and Tijuana.
The crossing was opened to traffic Thursday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring John Gavin, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and Victor Garcia Lizama, Mexico’s director of general customs.
More than 1,000 people from both sides of the border attended the long- delayed opening of the Mexican and U.S. border stations, which cost a total of nearly $10 million. The crossing was held up because Mexico could not afford to complete it.
The crossing, the 25th between the two nations, was first proposed in 1969.
The United States completed its side of the crossing in April.Mexico still has some landscaping to complete and the road abruptly changes from smooth pavement on the U.S. side to gravel on the Mexican side.
The crossing is expected to alleviate frequent traffic jams at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest border crossing between the United States and Mexico by volume. Nearly two of nine legal crossings between the two countries in 1984 occurred at San Ysidro, about five miles to the west.
The speeches prior to the opening intoned the hopes that the largely undeveloped mesa would become an area of economic growth.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican, cautioned against allowing commercial and industrial development to race ahead without determining where the waste created will go.
Millions of gallons of raw sewage from Tijuana, five miles west of the new border crossing, annually flow to San Diego. Officials of both countries are trying to decide how big a sewage treatment facility to build and to build it.
″It is not acceptable to increase the border population of Otay Mesa by several hundred thousand people without first building sewage facilities,″ Hunter said.