Starting on July 15 on this year, the San Ysidro port of entry will look completely different to those who used it every day to cross into the United States on foot, because now they'll be able to use a new pedestrian crossing that sits less than a mile west of the old facilities, called PedWest.
Currently, hundreds of thousands of vehicles go through El Chaparral port-of-entry when crossing southbound into Mexico from the U.S., and now a large part of the over 20,000 pedestrians that annually cross the border will be joining them thanks to PedWest, the new Port of Entry built by the U.S. government to process northbound travelers on foot.
PedWest is located west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, although it is still part of the overall complex and administration. Along with these new facilities, the City of San Diego and the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has built a modern transit center on Virginia Avenue, one that will give people access to the city's buses and Trolley system. Also, it is all located next to the Las Americas mall and Outlets at the Border, for convenience.
The city of Tijuana as seen from the Virginia Avenue Transit Center. Photo: José Sánchez/SanDiegoRed.com
SanDiegoRed.com was invited to take a tour around the new PedWest facilities with the purpose of familiarizing border residents with this new system.
VIDEO: San Diego PedWest port of entry.
Even after taking this tour, some questions might arise. We'll try answering some of the ahead of time:
When will I be able to use it?
The new facility will be open on July 15, 12:00 p.m., with eight lanes open (for crossing from Mexico into the U.S. ONLY). There will be 14 lanes total, but only 8 will be functioning for the time being. Meanwhile, at the old port of entry, 6 of them will remain open while Phase 2 of the remodeling project continues.
How do I get to PedWest if I'm in Tijuana?
If you're coming from Tijuana's Zona Centro (downtown), you have to take the bridge next to the Mercado de Artesnías, between Avenida Negrete and Avenida internacional. That bridge connects with a ramp and a provisional bridge that will connect to PedWest to the north.
You can also access the ramp and bridge through Plaza Viva Tijuana, located in the Colonia Federal neighborhood.
Mexican built structure leading people into PedWest. Photo: José Sánchez/SanDiegoRed.com
How do I reach the Trolley system?
PedWest, being located west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry and therefore west of the nearest Trolley station, will be reachable through a 5 minute-907 Line bus ride that can be boarded at the Transit Center after purchasing a single ride, special or 1 Day pass.
Another option is to buy a ticket for the 906 Line to reach the Beyer Boulevard or Iris Avenue stations, a 20 minute ride. That ticket will NOT be valid for use on the Trolley, unlike the 907 line one.
You can also, of course, walk there, using the pedestrian bridge that connects PedWest to the eastern side of San Ysidro, a 15 minute walk at most.
Buses will stop every 15 minutes from Monday to Friday, 20 minutes on Saturday, and 30 on Sunday.
Plan more time into your schedule when crossing on foot now, because it will take a bit more time to cross and get to the trolley station.
Will it be possible for private vehicles to pick you up?
Yes, the Virginia Avenue Transit Center (VATC) makes it possible for the MTS, taxis and private vehicles to pick people up once they have crossed, which is a major benefit absent from the old pedestrian port of entry.
The Virginia Avenue Transit Center, where you can take buses, taxis or private vehicles. Photo: José Sánchez/SanDiegoRed.com
Can you get an I-94 Permit on PedWest facilities?
Yes, you can do it by entering the building from the north (which you can't do in Otay). The only downside is that you won't be able to go back into Mexico using PedWest again, at least not until December 2016, when the Mexican side of the facility is done working on their customs stations for pedestrians into Mexico at El Chaparral.
The I-94 Permit waiting room in PedWest. Photo: José Sánchez/SanDiegoRed.com
Can I still use the "usual" port of entry to the East?
Yes, but there will only be 6 lanes open for pedestrians because of the remodeling being done over there. These works will be completed until 2019.
Will it be faster or slower to cross as a regular pedestrian?
A best case scenario is that PedWest will be a little faster than the regular eastern port of entry, says Pete Flores, the CBP Operations Director, adding that great efforts are being made to ensure that it doesn't take any longer than it usually does. The same amount of people will be staffing PedWest as in the old port of entry, but this team could grow depending on the situation.
The modern facilities and processes could allow for CBP officials to be faster in their duty, making for a better crossing experience," said Flores.
When can we use PedWest to go back to Mexico?
Probably until December. Luis Del Moral González, a representative from the National Assets Administration and Appraisal Institute (Indaabin), mentioned that the ramp and provisional bridge were required to access PedWest from Mexico, although a big part of the infrastructure will be ready by July 15. However, this infrastructure won't be able to receive pedestrians coming from the U.S. until December of this year. There is also no official date for these installations to be put in operation.
Meanwhile, the only choice people have to return into Mexico is through the eastern San Ysidro port of entry.
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