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Mexican and US officials celebrating signing of agreement on Monday. Mexican and US officials celebrating signing of agreement on Monday.

New toll-based border crossing to open in Tijuana in late 2024

The new crossing aims to cut waiting times to 20 minutes, but will charge a toll

A new crossing on the Mexico-U.S. border is set to open by late 2024 after an agreement was signed between officials from the two countries Monday.

The US $1 billion Otay Mesa East crossing, also known as Otay Mesa II, between Tijuana, Baja California, and Otay Mesa, California, will have five interchangeable lanes for vehicles and five more for commercial trucks. It aims to reduce waiting times to 20 minutes, representing a significant reduction, and will charge travelers a toll. Toll revenues will be divided between the two countries.

The agreement commits both countries to complete their construction projects, resolve policy issues and establish a framework to share toll revenues.

In Tijuana, a US $186 million investment is contemplated for construction, which is set to begin next year. In the U.S. construction has already begun and the project has received US $565 million in funding.

Deputy Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, listed some of the benefits of the new crossing. “This new port of entry will not only spur economic activity, but it will also improve the quality of life for the millions of Californians and Mexicans who frequently cross one of the busiest borders in the world,” she said.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry’s North America representative, Roberto Velasco, said the crossing was symbolically important for the two countries’ relationship. “We believe in building bridges not in building walls, and this is important for us in that sense,” he said.

“This is the future of the U.S.-Mexico relationship that we want. A future where we are more connected, and we allow for the many different possibilities that life on the border offers to both of our countries,” he added.

Plans for Otay Mesa East were first announced in 2014 during the Peña Nieto administration for completion in 2017. Last year, President López Obrador included the crossing among his infrastructure projects.

The area has long been an essential route for cross border traffic. The Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing, only a short distance from where Otay Mesa East will be constructed, is the busiest crossing in the Western Hemisphere, according to U.S General Services Administration.

With reports from San Diego Union Tribune

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