Category Archives: US-Mexican Border

Ensenada Hillbilly Tijuana Border Report

post trip import success at the pub

by Senior Hillbilly Correspondent, Jed Trailero    

Despite reading comprehension challenges by many, the San Ysidro border was not closed this past Saturday and Sunday, Sept 23 and 24th.  Southbound Tijuana El Chaparral crossing was closed Saturday and Sunday for construction and reopened at midnight Sunday.  Northbound was wide open and easy.

My Toyota, first photo,  is not quite as good as a segunda truck, but for this Monday leather sofa trip from San Diego to Ensenada, it did its job.

Southbound TJ crossing changes: Canopy is gone, k-rail lane blocks gone, lane reduction from 5 to 3, then reopens to 20 lanes at gates just before inspection.  It was a bit disappointing that not much had changed.  Monday light traffic at 5PM was appreciated.

Because of my special load, I was waved to the inspection area.  Cooled my heals for 5 minutes as staffing appeared to be very light this evening.  Received warm greeting, asked me how my Spanish was, put a placard and my windshield and direct me to the Xray machine.  Oooh, I had never been to the Xray inspection at TJ.

Gotta take care the those not specially selected for Xray.  Need yields big time to as you cross multiple line of traffic east to the machine.

The TJ Xray area has 3 steps.  1. You drive your car on the Xray machine ramp, 2. You take your keys, phone, cash, credit cards and bagpack with laptop/camera(that’s what I took) to waiting area that is a plush and comfy set of concrete seats.  3. When Xray is complete, drive your car to the 3 car stall negotiating area to discuss, further inspect, pay aduana for whatever.

Found out from one of the guards that they pull 12 hour shifts.  6am to 6pm was his.

Guy ahead of me was pulling out laundry baskets of toys, stuff from his van.  Looked like he already had been there 30 minutes, might have 30 more.  Inspector  had photocopy of the geezer’s ID. I was out without hassle in total of 15 minutes, with 5 minutes waiting for someone in inspection area, 5 minutes at xray, 5 minutes at negotiating (aduana) area.

So why didn’t go I to the declare/aduana area in the first place?  As a permanent resident, I can take my stuff across the border(with restrictions).  From my experience of following construction trucks with lumber, pickups with refrigerators and vans stuffed with household items, if you boldly show you are bringing back something, you are creating your own VIP declare lane!

Fabulous sunset greeted me as I got to Ensenada, thanks for photo, Irene.

What trip could be complete without a Tramo de Muerte accident?  One car in southbound lane facing north with front smashed and 2 others just ahead of it had their passengers out of vehicles trying to assess damage.  Appeared noone was hurt.

No, my load today was not as big as this one in 2007.  But, it is good to see furniture entering my neighborhood instead of leaving it.


Tijuana Border Reopened Midnight Sept 24

Bajadock: Thanks, Russell, for being one of the first through, just after midnight and posting.


A planned freeway closure at the international border in San Ysidro — one of the busiest border crossings in the world — will come to an early end, officials said Sunday.

Southbound Interstate 5 and Interstate 805 will reopen at midnight on Monday — 12 hours ahead of schedule, a spokesman with the U.S. General Services Administration said.

Both freeways have been closed at state Route 905 since 3 a.m. Saturday as part of a weekend-long project to refurbish and expand lanes of traffic into Mexico. The construction could have caused a gridlock of epic proportions, since tens of thousands of commuters use the crossing daily, but travelers largely stayed away from the area after extensive publicity.

The federal agency also announced that four instead three southbound freeway lanes will reopen in the area. One lane will still remain closed through Nov. 21 to allow for continuing road improvement and infrastructure work.

“Construction was well planned and executed during the closure with close to 300 people working to complete the project,” Anthony Kleppe, a program manager with the GSA, said in a statement. He went on to thank the public for their patience and local agencies for their cooperation “as we completed crucial work on the roadway.”

The construction did not affect northbound travelers who were still allowed to enter the United States, except during several brief closures. The border crossing in Otay Mesa also remained open.

During the around-the-clock construction, crews removed a large steel and canvas canopy that hung over some southbound lanes. Workers also planned to remove concrete crash barriers and install temporary paving and striping.

The work is part of an ongoing expansion and modernization project at the crossing that will ultimately double the number of southbound lanes — from five to 10 — into El Chaparral in Tijuana.

More inspection booths will also be added.

As the project continues, travelers were advised to continue monitoring signs and their speed while driving through the construction zone. Signs will be posted to announce changes in traffic patterns within the construction area, officials said.

The $741 million project is expected to be completed in 2019.

City News Service contributed to this report

Twitter: @LAWinkley

(619) 293-1546

Carmageddon Border Closure Video

by staff construction specialist, HANNA HARDHAT 

This video shows the construction shutdown(“Carmageddon) from 3AM Saturday September 23 to noon on Monday September 25.  The vid is 11 +minutes long, likely the unedited version, so we’ll cut the reporter some slack.  Most of the info you might want is in first 3 minutes.

This reporter is lacking so many facts, but, this ain’t Walter Cronkite.  “New canopy” is mentioned.  Where the heck does he get that new information???  Matt Boone is obviously a big canopy fan guy.

From the sunlight and shadows, the vid was likely taken at approx 4-5PM Saturday.

At approx 2:12 to 2:22 of vid: “There are detours provided, if you are headed southbound on the 5 and the 805. There are ways to make your way down, you’re just going to have to follow the signs, be patient”.  Hmmm.  That needs a bit more detail…like 905 to Otay Mesa crossing, dontyathink???

If Matt had consulted this well-published map, he could have had discussed Phase 3 of the San Ysidro border construction in more detail.

Ok, I’ll cut this young reporter some slack, as it is one of the few vids showing the demolition/construction this weekend.

Here is friend’s photo, approx 9AM northbound San Ysidro, aka “ghost town”, Saturday September 23.

Matt Boone, 1o news reporter, certainly has a fast paced career trajectory, as witnessed just last week.  We can’t wait for his next eyewitness, hard hitting report.

Zoo Food Wine and Brew




This tasty night for wildlife benefits the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. San Diego Zoo Global is a nonprofit organization committed to saving species worldwide and leading the fight to end extinction.



Sentri Goes Nexus TSA Pre Comparison

Chart outlines the Trusted Traveler programs offered by the Department of Homeland Security.

You can also use our new interactive program selector for guidance on selecting the best Trusted Traveler program for your particular travel needs.

Bajadock: just got new vehicle SENTRI approved in 2 week time period.  Online reports of people waiting 3-6 months had me worried.  

When I first got my SENTRI, I had no idea about the airport TSA PRE check being included.  First time through, I was waved to a “special” line.  Thought I was in for extra screening.  No prob.  Shoes and belts stay on.  Laptop stays in bag.  Line in PRE is shorter than the line to coffee.

TSA PRE is a wonderful way to endure the TSA drama at airports.

San Ysidro Border Closure Sep 23

In December 2014, the federal General Services Administration completed Phase 1B of a three-phase San Ysidro Port of Entry makeover. The construction project opened 25 new northbound lanes and 46 new primary inspection booths at the largest land port of entry in the world: on average, 50,000 vehicles cross northbound each day.

“Our traffic model indicates that if all lanes and booths are manned and operated, the expected border crossing time will dramatically decrease to less than 30 mins,” Traci Madison, the agency’s regional public affairs officer wrote in an email dated September 9, 2014.

While 30-minute waits did occur for a brief time, in a presentation to the Chula Vista City Council on September 12th, Anthony Kleppe, the port of entry program manager, said that the current wait for northbound vehicles at the port is about two and a half hours. In a later interview, he explained, “When we developed the project, there was a lot of discussion about latent demand. The concept of latent demand is that if you have an environment where people are waiting long periods of time to cross the border, they don’t cross. Then when you open up the border and make it more accessible, people who maybe previously would have hesitated in crossing the border decide to cross. What we’ve seen at San Ysidro with the opening of the 1B project is about a 20 percent increase in the number of people crossing.”

Now Phase 3 — the last in this $741 million project — is underway. From September 23rd through 25th, southbound Interstate 5 from State Route 905 to the San Ysidro port will be closed. Thereafter, only three southbound lanes will be open to traffic until November 21st. By 2019, the General Services Administration’s goal is to open 8 additional northbound lanes, 15 additional northbound booths, and 10 southbound lanes.

The new San Ysidro border reconfiguration began in 2009 and throughout the years, the General Services Administration has held numerous local meetings where they have received input from the community. In an original plan, residents had asked for a “bridge deck,” that is, a covering between the Camino del Plaza bridge and the Pedestrian East-West Bridge that could provide park space. The General Services Administration scrapped the plan early on.

Then, in 2014, the General Services Administration unveiled architectural designs for a new pedestrian crossing, known as PedWest, located across the street from the Las Americas mall. During community meetings, some called the rendering a “road stop bathroom” and asked for a world-class facility, but the General Services Administration opened PedWest in 2016 with no design revisions.

The General Services Administration also bought UETA Duty Free’s 12-acre property to make way for the upcoming I-5 realignment. Community members protested, asking that UETA retain three and a half acres to construct a new building and a parking lot, especially since the Interstate 5 expansion would decrease the number of parking spaces available for the public. In a compromise, the General Services Administration agreed that UETA would be able to retain about two and a half acres. The company currently has leased the easement to the General Services Administration for construction trailers and will likely build in the future.

Jason Wells, chief executive officer at the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said in a phone interview that he supports the reconfiguration and the opening of more lanes. He added, “We will demand that we see a huge drop in 2019 of wait times. Now, if in 2021 or 2022 it starts creeping up again, then I’ll happily go after [Customs and Border Protection] and their efficiency. At least we’ll know the infrastructure is there.”

Wells explained that, at the end of the day, it comes down to the guy in the booth. “We could have kept our original 24 lanes and had 30-minute wait times if CBP wanted to do so.”

When asked if the General Services Administration has any input into whether lanes and inspection booths will be fully manned by Customs and Border Protection agents after the reconfiguration is complete, Kleppe said, “GSA’s job is to construct the facilities necessary for our federal tenant agencies to conduct their missions. If you have questions about operational elements within [Customs and Border Protection], we would direct you to go talk to them.”

Ensenada Scenic Road Report

by staff reporter Hanna Hardhat  

Friday 15 Sep UPDATE: 3 different friends are sitting in traffic in Tijuana due to El Grito and Dia de la Independencia celebrations.  Avoid TJ this weekend.

Despite reports of 3 to 6 month waits for getting a new vehicle approved for SENTRI, mine was approved within 2 weeks.  Enjoyed this 2 minute wait on Wednesday at San Ysidro border crossing very much. It was 9:30AM.

Crossed northbound 6 times in past 2 months without SENTRI at SY/TJ.  Longest wait was 90 minutes and shortest was 2 x 35 minute waits in Ready Lane at SY during morning rush.  I’ll call anything less than an hour at SY/TJ crossing a good day.

NOWWAITJUSTADOGGONEMINUTE Doc!  If you have a SENTRI pass, why did you not use the SENTRI LANE these past 2 months?  That is a long story.  But in addition to you being SENTRIFIED, you need a SENTRIFIED vehicle as well.

Missing the characters in the regular and Ready Lanes.  SENTRI is quick, but lacks TJ color.

Which bring us to the Border Option Bingo question.  Between San Ysidro, Otay and Tecate, which crossing is easiest?  That is not an easy question.  But, I prefer TJ/San Ysidro, using the Free Road(red route) from north Rosarito.

Several friends enjoy the Blvd 2000 strategy to Otay(yellow route).  That is a big haul east imho.

Never cross on a Sunday or during a Monday holiday without a SENTRI pass.

Other good news is that the Scenic Road is mostly trouble free and easy between TJ and Ensenada.  The Salsipuedes ever changing cone zones still exist and are a sign that 80MPH speed here is not a good idea.

The terracing construction projects on these hillsides between El Mirador and the Ens toll booth are ongoing with heavy earth moving equipment invading the highway.  Why all of the rumble strips, especially both directions at K95?  Was someone going to open a taco shop there?

There was a rollover accident being cleaned up at 6PM Wednesday southbound.

Salsi is a beautiful area and if you have the time to stop and take a breath at El Mirador, top of the hill, K84, do it.  Home is the shadow of land’s end on the horizon here.  It is a gorgeous area and dangerous driving.  Salsipuedes translation is “leave if you can”.

Will they ever finish this highway’s rehab?  I no believe thees.  There are new terraces in at least two different areas of the Salsi Scenic Road area that are similar to the big fix on the December 28, 2013 landslide.

Safe travels.

Border Wall Prototypes


A second round of contracts to build models for President Donald Trump’s border wall — these out of materials other than concrete — were handed out by Customs and Border Protection Thursday.

The winners were four companies, none from San Diego. Two were winners in the first round of awards made last week to construct models, or prototypes, of a border wall made of concrete.

The contract awards ranged between $300,000 to $500,000 per company, according to CBP, though they did not break down the precise amounts to each bidder.

The prototypes wil be constructed in San Diego somewhere along the international border — just like the four concrete wall prototypes will be. The exact location has not yet been revealed by the agency.

Messages left for representatives of each company were not returned on Thursday.

The awards end another phase in the Trump administration’s drive to fulfill one of the president’s chief campaign promises to construct a wall along the southwest border with Mexico.

Initial requests for proposals for both a concrete wall and a second request for walls made of “other materials” were sent out in March.

Construction on both sets of prototypes is expected to begin soon, perhaps later this month — though CBP has not given out a timetable yet.

Each wall is required to be 18 feet to 30-feet high and unclimable, go six feet below ground and be able to fend off attempts to breach it for at least 30 minutes and ideally for up to four hours.

CBP said the walls that will be built of other materials will serve a dual purpose, both fortifying the border section where they are built and providing “an innovative perspective in the application of new materials which will allow CBP to evaluate the potential for new wall and barrier designs to complement the current wall and barrier used along the Southwest border.”

The contracts are only for prototype construction, for which Congress has appropriated $20 million.

The fate of building a larger wall when a design or designs are chosen is up in the air, with strong Congressional opposition from Democrats and some Republicans to spending any money on a wall running along hundreds of miles or more of the border.

San Ysidro Sep 23-25 Closure FAQ



Ensenada to San Diego Coffee Tour

Started my trip to San Diego with a visit to the 7/11 in Chapultepec(Pemex 1 block south of Tacos El Original).  Coffee was good and fresh at 7AM.

This little shop is convenient for northbounders with a drive thru and friendly service.  Coffee Express is on east side of Costero, south side of CEARTE.

I’m not much for the flavored coffees that these 7/11’s offer like Hazelnut.  Got a regular small cup of black coffee here in San Miguel, just before the Ensenada toll booth.  Yes, this Pemex accepts credit cards.


When I spotted the “huevo con jamon” sign, I decided on a 5 minute break for a burrito.  At 12 pesos, these little rolls were a very light snack.  3 or 4 might make a meal, but, just the warm smell and cheese oozing from the 1 inch tube with my coffee got me in the mood for the haul to the border.  Is the trap door behind him his kitchen or to the gasoline tanks???

Love the shrine in background.  His salsa and veg offering were weak.  But, the trail of ants running up his little wood stand let you know that this is authentic mexican food.  Street food is fun.

1K north of the Rosarito toll booth is a clean rest room and snack shack stop.  The coffee here is iffy, but, the convenience stop is in a good stop to prepare for the border bladder test.  Photo tells you that this is where to carbo load before your next marathon.

On the north side of the store is the “zoo”, where pigeons and squirrels put on a show if you share your snacks.

I have never ordered anything at the San Ysidro border.  But, the D’Volada coffee guy hit me up and I got a smokin’ hot cup, complete with little heart sticker to hold my straw in place. Did not see the “distribution” guy/gal that runs the coffee to the “sales” guy.  Interesting.

85F degrees this Sunday morning at 9AM in TJ.  And it is humid due to after glow of Tropical Storm Lidia.

The Ready Lane here is much more interesting than SENTRI.  TJ culture is full of characters and props.  Today/Sunday was 35 minutes wait in Ready Lane.  Guessing this fairly easy wait was due to Monday, Labor Day, being the true return to USA crunch day.

Panera Bread at Otay Ranch is my normal coffee stop on a shopping day in San Diego.  Coffee is fresh and time marked when it was brewed.  Only thing that I’m curious about is the 20 foot ceiling here.

The presentation is lacking, but, this ham/egg/cheese omelette was perfectly delicious in warmth, texture and flavor combo at Panera.

Monday morning coffee was at “The Bean”(Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) in Mission Valley.  This place always seems police/highway patrol officers in the morning.  I could not sleep, so the 5AM opening time was appreciated.  Ordered a delicious lattee to get my busy day going.

Our winner is D’Volada.  It is a chain with much better atmosphere and coffee than Starbucks.  I used their South Reforma Ensenada location in 2007 as my office to design my house, because I had no internet in my 6 month rental house.

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