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Construction begins on cross-border bridge connecting Tijuana Airport with the US

by Take Two®

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In a Jan. 31, 2011 photo, a plane lands at the Tijuana airport in Tijuana, Mexico. Plans are in the works to build a pedestrian bridge connecting ground transportation on the American side of the border to the Tijuana airport. Gregory Bull/AP

Imagine being able to walk across the U.S.-Mexico border in just a few minutes.

That's the idea behind a plan moving forward at the Tijuana International Airport. Developers there are building a bridge that will span all the way from the terminal to the border crossing at Otay Mesa. Construction on the project began last week.

Though it would save travelers time, it would not allow anyone to get around border control, says Sandra Dibble, reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune.

"The San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings have become increasingly congested, even for pedestrians," said Dibble. "The waits can be hours."

Both Mexican and American developers are working on this airport project, which is located right up against the U.S. border fence — separated only by a busy street that runs parallel to the fence.

It's a 525-foot bridge that would be limited to airline passengers who are willing to pay a toll.

"What we're talking about is a privately-operated border crossing," says Dibble, "Just basically a bridge that runs directly from the Tijuana airport to a building in the United States that would include facilities for U.S. customs and border protection inspectors."

There are many who support this idea, but Tijuana's mayor is not the project's biggest fan.

"He's had a long-running dispute with the Mexican developers who are the people who operate the Tijuana airport," says Dibble. "They haven't been paying property taxes to the city, and he has been saying, 'Well, until you do, I'm not going to give you a construction permit.'"

Dibble added that some people think the bridge would discourage people from stopping in Tijuana, taking business away from local businesses there.

Both the U.S. and Mexican federal governments are in support of this project.

"The U.S. government has given it a presidential permit, which is a basic permit you need to establish a border crossing," Dibble said. "So, that was huge given that this is privately funded."

For now, as construction remains limited to the perimeters of the airport, the next couple of months are unknown, Dibble said.

But, if everything goes as planned, the bridge could be completed as soon as 2014.

Web article by Nuran Alteir. 

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