TIJUANA, Mexico -- The United States aims to build a seventh border crossing between California and Mexico by 2014 to ease chronic congestion and boost trade, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Monday.
Schwarzenegger said the U.S. State Department had granted a permit to build a toll crossing between Otay Mesa, California, and Tijuana in Mexico at a cost of $715 million.
The current crossing in Otay Mesa handles cargo, vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and is free. Otay Mesa II, as the new one will be called, will offer alternative crossing facilities nearby for of a fee.
Financing would be raised through a bond issue to private investors, the California Department of Transportation said.
Tougher security to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers has meant truck drivers and a growing cross-border community of commuters are losing hours in bumper-to-bumper queues at busy border crossings between Mexico and California.
Last year, some 79 million people crossed through California's six existing ports of entry. Delays are worst during peak crossing times in the mornings and during weekends.
It was not clear what the cost of the toll at the new crossing would be, but U.S. officials hope that wait times there will be less than half an hour.
Mexican exporters complain they lose millions of dollars a year in border delays, as trucks line up for hours to get goods ranging from tomatoes to televisions into the United States.
"This is one more step in our continued effort to rebuild and expand the infrastructure needed to accommodate increased international trade with Mexico," Schwarzenegger said in a statement from Otay Mesa in California.
He said the new swifter border crossing should attract business and investment in the area.
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