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What's the deal with the long vehicle lines to cross from California into Tijuana? The fix could take a while

Alexandra Mendoza, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO — Long southbound lines at the San Ysidro-Tijuana vehicle border crossing used to be expected on Fridays. But now it’s almost a daily occurrence, as drivers have noticed for months.

“In the five or six years I’ve been crossing the border every day, it has never been as bad as it is right now,” said Rafael Cueva, a Tijuana resident who works at a restaurant in Mission Valley.

The delays have been constant fodder in Facebook groups about border crossings where people often share their experiences with a photo showing where the line starts or a screenshot of their phone’s stopwatch to indicate how long they waited.

During a visit to Tijuana in November, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador vowed to take action and ease southbound traffic into Mexico, including opening all lanes at El Chaparral Port of Entry.

But Mexican officials said back then that it will take more than that to solve the problem.

The long delays are believed to be due in part to ongoing construction projects in Tijuana that have created traffic bottlenecks entering the city.


That includes repairs of the El Chaparral bridge — which connects traffic entering the U.S. to Tijuana’s Zona Rio — which is now scheduled to reopen in late May or early June after being closed for more than a year due to structural damage.

The long-awaited reopening was originally scheduled for January, but as construction work progressed, additional structural deficiencies were found, city officials said late last month.

“The deficiencies of the bridge have been repaired with highly specialized engineering, so the completion has been postponed so that when it reopens to traffic, it will support the capacity of 15,000 vehicles per day,” officials said in a news release.

Another ongoing project is the construction of an elevated highway between Playas de Tijuana and the Tijuana airport, which required the partial closure of lanes on Avenida Internacional, which connects traffic from the U.S. to Playas de Tijuana and Rosarito among other areas.


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