San Diego — To support long-term expansion efforts for Southern California’s San Ysidro Land Port of Entry — the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere — construction of the Virginia Avenue Transit Center (VATC) is slated for completion in July 2016. The VATC will provide transportation options for the daily influx of 20,000 pedestrian travelers including bus, taxi, pedi-cab and general purpose pick-up/drop-off. The center also provides access and direction to shopping centers and nearby trolley services. Directed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and ultimately owned by the city of San Diego, the transit center is being built by Hensel Phelps with Stantec serving as the lead designer.

Photo: Hensel Phelps Construction

“Helping to ease congestion and improve the cross-border traveler experience for this port is an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Bill Ferris, Stantec design manager. “The Virginia Avenue Transit Center is one of the key solutions to that challenge that we’re honored to help produce.”

The VATC will function in concert with GSA’s West Pedestrian project (PedWest) also slated for completion in July. The two projects are designed to accommodate the majority of the northbound pedestrians while the next two major building projects are under construction; the Northbound Pedestrian Processing Facility on the east side of the port and the Historic Customs House. When the total San Ysidro Expansion and Configuration projects are completed, the improvements will yield a 100 percent-plus increase in the infrastructure to process U.S. bound travelers.

The transit center is one of four components of the San Ysidro port project that Stantec is delivering through a design-build contract with Hensel Phelps to support the GSA. Other key components include:

• Northbound Pedestrian Processing Facility — This 102,000-square-foot building will provide state-of-the-art customs facilities and queuing functions for U.S.-bound travelers.

• Historic Customs House — a major, historic renovation of this circa 1932 National Register building will include a new second story addition on the north wing to facilitate processing for Mexico-bound travelers. The 24,000-square-foot structure will continue to accommodate GSA facilities personnel and the Mexican Consular staff.

• West Trailer Complex — temporary operation facilities to allow GSA to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the operational spaces necessary to continue their mission while the new northbound pedestrian processing facility is under construction.  .

• Employee Pedestrian Bridges — connections between the recently completed Headhouse (Phase 1) and the newly planned Northbound Pedestrian Processing Facility will simplify access between the two major buildings (over the vehicular exit roadway).

“It is exciting to complete the VATC for the public. This is the first component of many that will enhance the efficiency of border crossing and will serve as a catalyst to create an atmosphere that connects both sides of the border as one community.  Working with the GSA continues to be a great partnership and gratifying experience,” said Chris Chacon, Hensel Phelps operations manager.

The projects are part of the GSA’s large-scale reconfiguration and expansion of the port to better accommodate long-term projected growth of the traveling public.