Member Spotlight

Critical San Ysidro Port Project Strengthens Border Security

As one of the busiest land ports in the world, the San Ysidro U.S. Land Port of Entry Phase 1B was a crucial project to strengthen security and anti-terrorism efforts for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

As one of the busiest land ports in the world, the San Ysidro U.S. Land Port of Entry Phase 1B was a crucial project to strengthen security and anti-terrorism efforts for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). AGC contractor Hensel Phelps was tasked with transforming the outdated 30-year-old site of rambling buildings into a functional and sustainable facility during the 24/7/365 operations of this very active border crossing. 

The $182 million, 191,000-sq.-ft. project was a sequential step in the overall San Ysidro U.S. Land Port of Entry Expansion and Reconfiguration Project, whose ultimate goal is to provide a more efficient and secure port, resulting in an improved traveler experience. The Phase 1B portion of the project included demolition and construction to facilitate a new headhouse building, northbound primary canopies and booths, northbound canopies and secondary booths, partial construction of a narcotics building, and other site work. 

Hensel Phelps broke ground on the project in February of 2011 and completed the complex job in December 2014. 

Oscar Preciado, Program Manager for the San Ysidro Port Construction Project, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, had high praises for the con- tractor’s performance on a project that offered many challenges for all involved. 

“Hensel Phelps is a valuable team member on a project equivalent to changing a flat tire while driving on a freeway at 90 miles per hour,” Preciado said. “Their cooperation, responsiveness, and can-do attitude made a complex construction project progress efficiently and with optimal results.” 

Since construction crews were separated from the traffic by no more than k-rail, work was phased and staged to maintain northbound and southbound operations at the Port at all times. Throughout construction, the Port continued to process an average of 50,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 northbound pedestrians per day. In the end, the project significantly improved border crossing wait times from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, with the average wait time dropping from more than three hours to less than 20 minutes. 

An additional challenge was the project goal of attempting LEED platinum, net-zero energy, and net-zero non-potable water. The Hensel Phelps team rose to the challenges with the implementation of sustainable features including a 300,000-gallon rainwater reclamation system and on-site sewage treatment, 1.53MW photovoltaic array, and a solar- thermal water system.

 Photo Credits: Hensel Phelps and Mikki Piper Imaging