GSA, CBP Celebrate Otay Mesa Port Commercial Processing Improvements
SAN DIEGO - Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection (CBP) co-hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry. The event celebrated the milestone completion of commercial improvements on the truck inspection portion of the port, delivering infrastructure improvements which expand processing capacity, grow the region's economy and protect the climate.
"GSA embraces our agency partnerships which are enabling the accomplishment of multiple missions while having a positive economic impact on the greater San Diego community," said GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS) Commissioner Nina Albert. "The role of PBS in the building industry puts us in a unique position to have lasting, positive impact. Otay Mesa is a great example where we see traffic having an impact on the economy and community. Here, we've aligned sustainability features of design and construction plans with the culture of the community and its needs without compromising operational mission objectives."
GSA has a physical real-estate presence in more than 2,000 communities nationwide and just received a $3.4 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for 26 major modernization and construction projects at land ports of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico and Canada.
The ceremony, held atop the new employee parking structure, was attended by legislators from the binational community, federal officials and civic leaders.
"The Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry is an important part of our regional economy," said U.S. Rep (CA-51) Juan Vargas. "Otay Mesa is one of the busiest commercial ports of entry, and these improvements will invest in more efficient flows of commerce and boost commercial processing. Expanding and modernizing this port of entry will benefit the economy on both sides of the border, and I'm proud to have supported this vital project from its inception to completion."
The completion of commercial improvements at Otay Mesa underscore a positive return on the federal government's $134 million investment in the modernization and expansion at the 51-acre port. CBP figures show an increasing number of cargo truck crossings at Otay Mesa - 958,766 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Though truck crossings dipped by 51,221 (907,545) in FY 2020 as the pandemic raged, crossings increased by more than 108,000 trucks last year. Translated into dollars, those trucks imported $34 billion of goods in FY19, $32 billion in FY20, and more than $37 billion in FY21 at California's busiest commercial truck crossing.
"The improvements GSA is making continue to speed the importation of just-in-time shipments into the U.S., reduce wait times and vehicle emissions, and improve the supply chain by eliminating long-standing vehicular conflicts within the facility that have hampered commercial flows for decades," said GSA's Acting Regional Administrator Dan Brown.
The Otay Mesa ceremony highlighted GSA's work that increased the number of commercial truck processing lanes from nine to 16, and the executive branch support of CBP and other federal agencies which conduct their vital missions related to the comprehensive management, control and protection of our nation's borders.
"The Otay Mesa modernization and expansion project is creating a safer and more efficient facility to support our processing capabilities at one of the busiest cargo ports of entry in the nation." said Sidney Aki, CBP's Director of Field Operations in San Diego. "This modernization allows our officers to continue protecting our nation's borders, while facilitating the flow of commerce between Mexico and the United States. Our agency is extremely excited to have this innovative project come to fruition here very soon."
The Otay Mesa modernization and expansion project, slated for overall completion in Spring 2023, also adds other upgrades and reconfigurations including those for pedestrian travelers, employees, visitors, and bus inspections. Other improvements include:
- Construction of a commercial annex building
- Relocation of Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) enrollment facilities
- Relocation of hazardous material commercial import processing
The Otay Mesa modernization and expansion project will provide port tenants, including CBP and other federal agencies, with adequate operational space to reduce traffic congestion via a more efficient layout for port operations and facilities for the traveling public. To accommodate the 3.6 million pedestrians who cross each year, GSA will double pedestrian lanes from six to 12 to improve processing capacity. "Otay Mesa and especially the cargo port are the most-important asset for our community," said Alejandra Mier y Teran, executive director of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce. She said that small-business owners and human-resource directors point to pedestrian processing as key to keeping high-demand manufacturing facilities open including those producing medical devices and automotive parts. "Through this pandemic, Otay is one of the few communities in the greater San Diego region that never really closed between Baja and Southern California. Trade has increased."
About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet and overseeing approximately $75 billion in annual contracts. GSA's mission is to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across government, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration's priorities. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @USGSA.
About CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation's borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.