$226m Federal funds for San Ysidro

By Doug Newhouse |

The Western Hemisphere’s biggest US-Mexico crossing has just received $226m of vital Federal funding for the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Modernization.

The US General Services Administration (GSA) announced this month that it has now received this funding after local businessmen made their case that that long delays were impacting negatively on the San Diego and Tijuana economies. The Department of Homeland Security also supports the expansion in principle.

The total cost of this project is estimated at around $732m. San Ysidro currently processes around 50,000 northbound vehicles a day and an additional 25,000 northbound pedestrians.

Retail outlets are a big contributor to those revenues, with UETA’s San Ysidro mega duty free land border store (owned by Duty Free Americas) one of the biggest customer draws.



The existing flagship UETA San Ysidro border store owned by Duty Free Americas – currently the location’s biggest duty free land border store.


UETA operates four stores in San Ysidro, which is easily its biggest southern border sales location, plus a store in nearby Otay Mesa. Its flagship San Ysidro store is the biggest and most profitable in the chain. It also competes with Baja Duty Free’s two stores in San Ysidro and also Image Duty Free’s sole outlet. A new contender – Duty Free City – has also just announced it is planning to set up a rival 14,000sq ft retail store in San Ysidro this year [see separate story: http://www.trbusiness.com/index.php/regional/americas/14612-big-new-us-player-for-san-ysidro.html].

Effectively the three-year San Ysidro border crossing project will raise the number of customs and immigration booths from the wholly inadequate 24 today to 63. Detailed research has already shown that long queues at the border often discourage travellers from making trips across this border at all, while travellers can also be reluctant to park up their cars to buy duty free goods when the queues are very long – which is often.

Progress on the initial phase of the project has seen the new pedestrian walkway access completed and opened by GSA. This serves all customers on foot, including many workers who travel back and forth across the border every day.

New pedestrian access from the US to Mexico and vice versa has already been opened.


Commenting on this major project, supporting US Senator Barbara Boxer said: “These critical improvements will create jobs, speed the flow of commerce and improve border security.”

GSA Pacific Rim Regional Administrator Ruth Cox added: “GSA is making great progress on the San Ysidro modernization and expansion project to date, having completed the pedestrian bridge, southbound pedestrian crossing, and 46 of the 63 planned northbound inspection booths. This $226 million funding will allow us to construct a new southbound approach to Mexico’s El Chaparral Port of Entry, thus freeing up land to construct an additional 17 northbound inspection booths.

“Completion of Phase 3 will enhance both the north and southbound border crossing experience for over 100K travelers entering and leaving the United States at San Ysidro each day.”

In another development which will also benefit the US/Mexican border business, the GSA has also been granted $61.6m to expand and modernise the US Land Port of Entry facilities at the Port of Laredo in Laredo, Texas plus another $7.4m to deliver a similar result at the smaller border crossing in Columbus, New Mexico.


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