New border crossing opens in California

For the first time in more than 40 years, if you cross into Tijuana, you will have to make a sharp right turn.

NBC 7 San Diego went across the border to give you a first-hand look at El Chaparral, the new border crossing and the third phase of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Expansion Project.

The new lanes are located west of the current southbound inspection lanes going into Mexico.

“My understanding though is that the federal government’s stance is that November 1st , El Chaparral will be the only option,”said Jason Wells CEO of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.

Wells says the temporary conversion can complicate the situation.

“Now you have six lanes reduced into 5 at what they’re expecting a 17 mile an hour curve to go into 22 booths,” Wells explains.

The concern with the temporary fix is that it may create a bottleneck during peak periods of traffic going into Mexico. Originally the U.S. was going to figure a way to connect the Interstate 5 South to El Chaparral. But funding still has not been approved. It is part of a $583 million project to improve congestion at the busiest border land crossing in the country.

A project some say is already testing their patience.

“It doesn’t really flow and make it welcoming to come any more, says Marty Matsuhara who crosses into Mexico several times a week. “It used to be very simple and now it’s more of a hassle,”she added.

Although the overall project promises reduced wait times, many are hoping the U.S. will come through with their end of the bargain.

“I think it brings an excellent opportunity for traffic south bound,” said Wells. “Let’s just hope that we can ensure that we reciprocate on the north bound side.”

Once the U.S. comes up with the funding, the southbound crossing we have used to travel into Mexico for years will be converted into north bound lanes coming into the U.S.

This will expand the border crossing into the U.S. to 34 lanes.

U.S. officials have said that they are working on getting those funds and building a connection from the Interstate 5 south to El Chaparral, hopefully by 2016.

El Chaparral will open fully to traffic Nov. 1.

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