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California’s newest airport terminal extends to Mexico
The U S Mexico border is one of the world’s most fortified international divides, It will also be one of the only ones that has an airport straddling two countries. An investor group that includes Chicago billionaire Sam Zell built a sleek terminal in San Diego with a bridge that crosses a razor-wire border fence to Tijuana’s decades-old airport. Passengers pay $18 to walk a 119-metre overpass to Tijuana International Airport, a springboard for about 30 Mexican destinations.
Target customers are the estimated 60 per cent of Tijuana airport passengers who come to the United States, about 2.6 million last year. Now they drive about 15 minutes to a congested land crossing, where they wait up to several hours to enter San Diego by car or on foot. The airport bridge is a five-minute walk to a U.S. border inspector. The only other cross-border airport known to industry experts is in the European Union between Basel, Switzerland, and France’s Upper Rhine region but it carries none of the political freight of San Diego and Tijuana.Mexicans who ran across the border illegally overwhelmed the Border Patrol until the mid-1990s, when new fences and additional agents heralded a massive surge in U.S. enforcement on the 3144-km line with Mexico.
Cross Border Xpress, one of the largest privately-operated U.S. air terminals, wouldn’t have happened if Tijuana didn’t build its airport a few steps from the international line in the 1950s or if it wasn’t surrounded by undeveloped land in a barren, industrial part of San Diego.The terminal is one of the last works by the late Ricardo Legorreta, whose bold colours helped bring Mexican modernism to a world stage and attracted a strong following in the American Southwest. The stone exterior mixes purple stucco and red limestone that takes on a deep, inky hue when it rains. Stone gardens sprout agave and other desert plants.