PedWest Improves Pedestrian Experience at San Ysidro Land Port of Entry
By Javier Fernandez
This past summer, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), jointly opened a new westside pedestrian crossing facility at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry (LPOE). More commonly referred to as PedWest, the new 22,000 square foot state of the art facility was designed to increase the port’s overall pedestrian processing capacity and provide travelers with an additional crossing option conveniently located near the new Virginia Avenue Transit Center (VATC) and retail shops and restaurants in West San Ysidro.
With 12 northbound and two reversible pedestrian lanes that can be run in conjunction with the eastside pedestrian operations, the new facility has helped drastically reduce northbound crossing wait times for some of the over 20,000 pedestrians that cross into the United States each day. The two to three hour wait times of the past have now been reduced to between 15 and 30 minutes for those pedestrians now crossing at PedWest.
“The timely opening of the PedWest and the Virginia Avenue Transit Center in July were critical to ensuring our San Ysidro LPOE project remained on schedule, avoiding costly delays or disruption of pedestrian processing operations,” said Damon Yee, Project Manager for San Ysidro. “The opening of PedWest has not only resulted in reducing pedestrian crossing wait times, but it allowed CBP to shift pedestrian processing on the east side of the port to the historic customs house building in order to accommodate the demolition of the old 1970’s pedestrian building.”
In addition, there has been a dramatic shift in traveling patterns as a result of the new facility opening. Approximately 60 percent of northbound pedestrians now use PedWest due to its larger capacity and reduced wait times. In mid September, Mexico opened its permanent northbound pedestrian pathway to PedWest, replacing a temporary structure that was quickly constructed to allow for the on-time opening of the U.S. facility. The addition of this new permanent infrastructure provided for a more uniform and pleasant pedestrian crossing experience on both sides of the border.
“The new pedestrian crossing really represents what can be achieved when everyone works together to improve conditions for the traveling public. Having crossed this border many times as a pedestrian, the new U.S. and Mexican facilities are dramatically better than the 1970’s pedestrian building,” said Anthony Kleppe, GSA LPOE Program Manager.
Local community organizations are also pleased with the facility. “PedWest is leading the way towards a dignified border crossing experience for pedestrians at our Ports of Entry. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of binational collaboration to improve the quality of life of our border crossing community to ensure the safe and legal transit between Mexico and the United States,” noted Monica Schroeder, founder and director of Tijuana Te Quiero, a local non-profit community organization.
The successful opening and operation of PedWest and the Virginia Avenue Transit Center is a testament of the strong relationships between agencies in the U.S. and close collaboration with the Mexican government and has had a significant impact on the travelling experience as pedestrian cross the border each and every day. Improving the pedestrian crossing experience has been a top priority for GSA, and with the opening of PedWest, the agency has taken a decisive step to meet CBP’s and the San Diego Region’s needs.