SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) - The next phase of a planned expansion of the San Ysidro Port of Entry begins Thursday, and officials are already warning the public about a potential "carmaggedon" issue that will occur in the area later this month.
The first phase of the $741 million project began in July, and it included the reconstruction of the northbound lanes heading into the U.S. and expanded the ped-west access bridge.
For the project's second phase, a northbound pedestrian bridge is being built.
On Sept. 23, starting at 3 a.m., the third phase of the project will begin and include a 57-hour closure of southbound Interstate 5 and 805 lanes, at state Route 905, to the border crossing. A new transit center is also being built, and officials say northbound lanes for pedestrians will increase from 14 to 23.
General Services Administration official Anthony Kleppe said, "People will have more than just a trolley to go down to the border. There's also buses that come over to the Virginia Avenue transit system, so really we're making the transit option a potential for people who want to cross the border as pedestrians."
Kleppe said the 57-hour closure would allow workers to remove a 6,000-square-foot canopy that hovers over all five lanes of the freeway. The closure would also give workers an opportunity to remove all crash barriers along I-5.
Anyone who needs to travel into Mexico during the closure will be redirected to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, but officials are warning the public to expect significant delays.
After the closure, there will only be three southbound lanes heading into Mexico for about eight weeks due to additional construction to connect the east and west sides of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Following the eight weeks, crews will work on the remaining lanes to create a curve in the road that will allow for safer driving into Mexico.
During the closure and subsequent projects, officials advise travelers to consider taking a bus or using pedestrian walkways to get to the border crossing.