Road Work Woes For Border Businesses
By Mario Conde
It has been a difficult month for businesses located on Imperial Avenue, as State Highway 111 is known in Imperial County, due to long lines caused by construction near the Port of Entry between Calexico and Mexicali. The lines begin on the peak hours of 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and during the weekends around 2 p.m.
“The line is too long and does not permit the clients to cross into our driveway, and on top of that, there are cars that want to get in line from the west driveway that we share with the Econ Store,” business owner Jose Manuel Cordova stated regarding the toll road work on Imperial Avenue has taken on his business, Fast Tire Shop. “Our clients are unable to come to us,” he continued. “We were making money in December and after they closed the lanes we have not made money; the store is empty every day.”
Yum Yum Restaurant owner Louis Wong has also been affected by the road work. “This has scared some of my clients, especially the ones that are from out of town since they don’t know how to use the street that leads to us.” Wong said. “I’ve lost around 10 to 20 percent of my business in the last month.” Wong proposed more traffic control at the intersection. “I guess we will have to bear with the inconvenience because this is a project for the port of entry,” he concluded.
On January 9 the United States General Services Administration (GSA) announced the closure of the lanes leading to Calexico West Port of Entry for construction work. The remodeling work at the border port required the closure of both lanes of Imperial Avenue. This caused a bottle neck going into Mexicali and forced the city to use traffic
controllers to ease traffic at peak hours.
Calexico City Manager Armando Villa addressed the traffic situation, explaining that the city has been working to alleviate traffic congestion, but the funnel going into Mexicali is really hurting their efforts. Villa said he has spoken to the Imperial County Transportation Commission and has scheduled meetings with CalTrans and GSA to address the issue. He added that there could be lane closures on the Mexican side and wants to avoid further traffic jams.
“We simply cannot endure another four months of this.” Villa maintained. “We will work in the next couple of days to make up the lane that is closed so we can funnel traffic through Mexico quicker, whether it’s opening another lane or something.”
Councilman Jesus Eduardo Escobar warned that there will be street closures on the Mexican side that will create a double bottle neck on both sides of the Port of Entry. “If it’s a traffic issue now, it will be worse in the short term; that’s why we need to take a closer look at traffic control and look for additional funding and start being more proactive,” he advised.