SAN DIEGO --
A proposed cross-border airport terminal could give San Diegans more access to flights and may lead to more growth in the Otay Mesa area.
The Otay-Tijuana Venture LLC has plans to build a cross-border facility that will ultimately become an airport terminal in the United States for the Tijuana International Airport.
The $77.9 million privately funded facility would be built in Otay Mesa, just west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Airline passengers would park in the U.S., check their bags in and go through security in the U.S. They would then walk across a 500-foot pedestrian bridge over the U.S.-Mexico border and board a plane in Tijuana.
The project already has a U.S. Presidential Permit and is now waiting for a Presidential Permit from Mexico City. It also needs several other permits before construction can begin in Otay Mesa.
"Otay Mesa is the future of San Diego," said San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez.
The southern community is already home to major developments, including the new 905 state highway and the future Otay Mesa East Port of Entry. Alvarez said an airport terminal would only spur that growth even more.
"That's where we have the available land, the affordable land in San Diego," Alvarez said.
A terminal could also alleviate traffic at the ports of entry. SANDAG estimates the San Diego region loses upwards of $4 billion a year because of border wait times.
Two million people drive across the border every year just to get to Tijuana Airport, according to officials. That traffic can be reduced with a terminal on the U.S. side of the border.
The new terminal could also give San Diego travelers more options, as Tijuana offers direct flights to 20 Mexican cities and at least eight locations not offered from Lindbergh Field. One of those international locations is China, an economic powerhouse that does a lot of business with Mexico.
"They actually have flights now that actually go to that part of the world whereas in San Diego we're really limited in what we can do," said Alvarez.
Developers hope to break ground in late 2011 with a grand opening no later than the end of 2013.
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The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is willing to spend $385,000 to continue studying the notions, which in the most simplest plans calls for a pedestrian bridge from a parking lot in Otay...
$6.1 million is being spent on upgrades.
The study will look at options that include a simple pedestrian bridge from a parking lot in Otay Mesa or a terminal on the U.S. side with ticket and check-in counters.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is interested in a cross-border connection with Tijuana Int'l Airport.