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San Ysidro border crossing scheduled to get new pedestrian entrance

San Ysidro border crossing scheduled to get new pedestrian entrance
About 24,000 pedestrians cross the border each day from Tijuana to San Ysidro, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. At peak times, people wait two or more hours to cross. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Starting in June, thousands of pedestrians can expect a choice when crossing the border from Tijuana to San Ysidro. A new entrance called PedWest is scheduled to open on the west side of the port's vehicle lanes, augmenting the existing entrance on the east.

"At this point, we're looking at a completion in May and probably opening for the first pedestrian sometime in June," said Anthony Kleppe, senior asset manager for the U.S. General Services Administration.

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The PedWest entrance initially will have 12 lanes that connect with Mexico's El Chaparral facility. Under the plan, 10 lanes typically would serve pedestrians entering the United States, with two lanes set aside for southbound crossers. Depending on demand, their directions could be reversed.

An estimated 24,000 pedestrians cross each day from Tijuana to San Ysidro at the entrance east of the vehicle lanes, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In recent years, lines have grown especially long during peak hours, with people waiting two hours or more to cross.

The expansion of the pedestrian lanes is part of the massive $741-million reconstruction of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, scheduled for completion in 2019.

In addition to opening PedWest, the General Services Administration is preparing to replace the outdated 13-lane pedestrian entrance on the east side with a new structure that includes 20 pedestrian booths. That opening also is scheduled for 2019.

Construction of the eastern facility won't start until PedWest opens, Kleppe said. And throughout the construction phase, northbound pedestrians will continue to be able to cross as they currently do in the existing eastern facility, where authorities have committed to keeping at least six lanes open.

With 60% of pedestrian crossers boarding the trolley, located near the eastern pedestrian lanes, "we can't just close that facility," Kleppe said. "We're going to have six northbound lanes that will operate 24-7."

Dibble writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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