TIJUANA.- It's not the feeling of insecurity what is keeping US tourists away from Tijuana, but the long waiting times at the border crossing according to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.
The officer, who visited Tijuana to be a part of a Bi-National Dialogue with his peer Carlos Bustamante, Mayor of the Mexican border city, emphasized the need to raise awareness in federal authorities from both sides of the border about the importance of investing in the busiest crossing point of the world. The event was organized by the Institute of the Americas of the UCSD.
Barely after unpacking from their trip to Washington, where they were part of a bi-national delegation whose goal was to meet congressmen and federal authorities, the mayors informed that there are no concrete advances in securing funding for the last stages of the San Ysidro project which covers the creation of accesses that connect the US freeway with the new crossing port of El Chaparral.
Tentatively, the new entry point to Mexico would be ready in November, which would result in the closing of Puerta México, whether the appropriate connections in US soil exist or not.
Besides the imminent vehicular chaos, that situation could bring important economic loss for the region, according to both officers.
"The infrastructure problems make it harder to use that crossing port every day," said Sander. "If we don't find solutions to it, it will be harder to do business and tend to families and friends."
Carlos Bustamante qualified as "a serious problem," the fact that just a few weeks before the expected closing, there is still no plan to deal with the traffic and, consequently, the extremely long waiting times for the border community.
In addition, he said that there has been a lack of information by the federal government, since the city has not been informed about its plans for the project.
According to information by the San Diego Association of Governments (Sandag), every year this border region loses around six billion dollars due to long crossing times.
Sanders, whose term of office will end in a few months, emphasized the improvement of Tijuana in security matters, highlighting its drastic drop in violence rates.
At the same time, he commented that once he leaves his position, he will take some time off to visit Mexico more frequently and that he has even applied for a SENTRI card to save time when he returns to his country.
This Thursday's dialogue represented the first time an Institute of the Americas' meeting moves south of the border. The initiative was requested by Mayor Bustamante, after the first conference was celebrated in San Diego back in May.
Original text: Alexandra Mendoza
Translation by: Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org