“Leaving the current port open … is not an option,” Cázares said, because within two months Mexico intends to start expansion of its northbound crossing lanes that lead into San Ysidro. The project involves turning the existing southbound lanes into northbound ones, he said.
To funnel vehicles to the new port, Cázares said Mexico will reroute all traffic through a temporary, five-lane connection that involves a sharp turn. Critics of this strategy say the curve will cause major traffic delays.
While applauding construction of the new facility, members of the Baja California business community have vigorously protested the plan to close the six existing southbound lanes this fall.
By relying solely on the temporary connection, “the biggest fear is that we will have a problem going into Mexico, and that will affect the economy on both sides of the border,” said Oscar Escobedo, a member of the Tijuana Economic Development Council and a former state tourism secretary. He is serving as spokesman for the private sector on the El Chaparral issue.
“Closing that down would be very unwise,” said Tijuana attorney José M. Larroque, co-chairman of the Smart Border Coalition, a binational group that advocates for more efficient crossings. “Certainly it would be a slap in the face to the Tijuana community if they decide to create that havoc on the border.”