The Otay Mesa Port of Entry has added a new tool to reduce traffic waits: The “ready lane.”
Beginning Monday, a vehicle lane will be reserved for travelers carrying certain types of passports that contain radio frequency identification technology.
This wireless technology allows for faster screening and processing of travelers, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“We hope that it is successful because then they can move it to San Ysidro and Calexico,” said James Clark, director general of the Mexico Business Center at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It is definitely much needed in Otay Mesa, which is heavy with business travel. It’s going to be helpful to have that lane.”
U.S. officials said they are working with Mexican authorities to raise awareness of the new lane.
The approach to the lane will be marked in Tijuana. It is on the far west side of the lanes of traffic, about one third of a mile before the Otay Mesa port of entry.
The following travel documents may be used at the ready lane:
• U.S. passport card (not the traditional passport booklet)
• Trusted traveler card (SENTRI)
• New legal permanent resident card (green card)
• New border crossing card (laser visa)
• Enhanced driver’s License (not offered currently in California)
These high-tech documents are referred to as RFID-enabled cards and can be read from up to 30 feet away.
CBP said using the ready lane will be a three-step process.
• Stop at the beginning of the lane and make sure each passenger has their card out
• When signaled, drive slowly through the lane and hold all cards up on the driver’s side of the vehicle
• Stop at the officer’s booth and be ready to show documents
View this video provided by CPB to see how the new ready lane will function.
The ready lane will allow travelers with different types of U.S.-approved documents to cross together in a vehicle.
SENTRI lanes remain faster but all occupants in a vehicle must have SENTRI cards to expedite their crossing.
SENTRI participants must pass a background check and interview before receiving their cards.
“It’s not going to be as fast as SENTRI but it’s going to be a lot better than regular lanes. We applaud CBP for doing this,” said Clark, of the Mexico Business Center.
There are currently ready lanes at: Del Rio and Donna-Rio Bravo Bridge, Texas; Deconcini, Nogales; Blaine, Wash; Ambassador Bridge, Detroit;
Future locations include San Luis and Lukeville, Arizona, Lincoln-Juarez, Laredo and Bridge 1-Eagle Pass, Texas.
U.S. officials encourage travelers to obtain RFID-enabled cards to expedite their entry. On Monday, U.S. State Department officials from the newly opened San Diego Passport Agency will be at the Otay Mesa port to provide information about obtaining the U.S. passport card, which is an RFID-enabled travel document.