U.S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection R. Gil Kerlikowske, left,
with Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano. Photo by Chris Jennewien
The new commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection assured South County business leaders Thursday that crucial cross-border transportation projects are moving forward.
R. Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who was sworn in as commissioner by President Obama on March 7, said he is as concerned about fostering economic growth along the border as border protection itself.
“We would never be successful if the only focus and the only desire we had was to provide an absolutely safe community,” he said, before addressing specific transportation projects.
The roundtable in Chula Vista was sponsored by the South County Economic Development Council and attended by business and political leaders from both sides of the border.
Cindy Gompper-Graves, chief executive officer of the council, said the group was pleased with what they heard during the one-hour meeting.
“The fact that the commissioner was here shows how important our bi-national region is,” she said.
Kerlikowski said positions have been approved for customs agents at the planned San Diego-Tijuana Airport Cross-Border Terminal, which will allow construction to start soon. The terminal will allow passengers to park in San Diego and cross the border to the under-utilized Tijuana airport via a 500-foot-long bridge.
“We have an asset in Baja, and we have a need in San Diego,” Gompper-Graves said of the project.
Kerlikowski also addressed pedestrian wait times at San Ysidro, truck and cargo-screening at Otay Mesa, a second truck terminal at Otay Mesa, the proposed revitalization of the Pacific Imperial Railroad and screening of cargo entering Mexico.
He said he was committed to working with local stakeholders to advance these projects and open to using new technology to speed entry.
Bob Watkins, chair of the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region, said he liked what he heard but urged the commissioner to “move the agenda ahead faster.”
Enrique Esparza Jr., president of the Tijuana Economic Development Council, said it was important for business leaders on both sides of the border to work together to solve the region’s common problems.
“When we work as a team, we see the benefits on both sides of the border,” he said.
原文时间：2014-04-17 来源：timesofsandiego.com 作者：Chris Jennewein