Calexico Chronicle / IV Weekly

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Plans for Key Bridge Widening at Calexico East Port Making Progress

October 31, 2019

     Federal environmental studies are under way and soon requests for qualifications will be put out to find a design and construction team to widen a vehicle bridge at the Calexico East Port of Entry.

 

     It crosses the All-American Canal and connects State Route 7 to the port, according to the one of the agencies leading the efforts.

 

     The California Department of Transportation and the Imperial County Transportation Commission are teaming up to lead the $25 million partially federally funded project. It will see the bridge widened by four lanes: two for northbound automobile traffic and two for northbound commercial truck traffic.

 

     Construction on the project is well over a year away, but county Transportation Commission Executive Director Mark Baza updated his 11-member commission during its Oct. 23 meeting as to the status of the project.

 

     “The primary purpose of the project is to relieve congestion on the bridge. The widening and flow will allow the better storage of trucks and cars leading to the primary gates (of the port),” Baza stated Oct. 25.

 

     The east port is a major route for commercial trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

     “Additionally, there is a plan by (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) to add six new auto primary inspection lanes and three new truck primary inspection lanes (at the east port),” he added.

 

East port expansion timeline

 

     That CBP-led port expansion is still several years away, Baza indicated, pending Congressional funding authorization that will not occur any time before phase 2B of the Calexico West Port of Entry expansion project is funded. Phase 2B calls for the expansion of the pedestrian lanes at the Calexico West port near Second Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

 

     The local Transportation Commission is now developing the request for qualifications for the bridge project to go out before the winter months and the request for proposals for a design and construction team to go out by August 2020.

 

     In December 2018, the local commission, in partnership with Caltrans, was awarded $20 million under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD discretionary grant program. It funded the design-build phase of the bridge-expansion project, according to Baza’s report. The design-build phase is scheduled to start in February 2021.

 

Caltrans involvement

 

     Meanwhile, Caltrans has led the effort to get technical and environmental studies under the National Environmental Policy Act completed and approved by May 2020. The studies are in progress.

 

     Caltrans and the local Transportation Commission were awarded $3 million in May 2018 through the California Transportation Commission and the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program to do the environmental and technical work, according to Baza. After NEPA approval, Baza stated the local Transportation Commission will put in the request for the $20 million for the design-build phase.

 

     Baza stated a total of $25 million has been committed to the bridge-widening project. In addition to the $3 million for environmental and technical work, and the $20 million for design and construction work, there is a $2 million local match for the design-build phase. It will come out of voter-approved Measure D half-cent sales tax proceeds. Measure D funds are dedicated mostly to major roads project throughout the county.

 

     “If there is a shortfall, there is an opportunity to acquire the additional funding through the California Transportation Commission,” Baza stated Oct. 28.

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