Blogging the scene at the Otay Mesa border crossing

It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve had the opportunity to deliver a load here in the San Diego area, and the changes are enormous.

The old 76 fuel stop on 905 where we used to fight for the few parking spaces in the dirt has that area fenced off and a new Pilot is across the street.

CHP has a new inspection facility half a block from the commercial crossing, where every truck coming in from Mexico is directed to.

The drop yard we use of Enrique Firmi was a surprise, inasmuch every trailer had it lights in place, glad hand gaskets, none missing, a marked change from the old days.

The area around Otay Mesa is where Hoffa and some of his union goons made their photo op in 07 protesting the impending Cross Border Pilot Program. They stood around with their protest signs, yelling and making angry gestures at the Mexican drivers, who were doing nothing other than the job they were hired to do.

They ignored the new or newer drayage trucks and focused the photo op on older cabovers that in their minds were junk, ignoring the fact that these trucks, all of them, had crossed the CHP inspection facility moments earlier.

And for those who operate in or through California, we all know what pricks the CHP commercial officers can be.

Every Truck, Every Time

That was the comments made by former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, pertaining to trucks from Mexico. And it was a comment immediately seized upon and ridiculed by the opponents. Yet is was more misinformation and lies by the opposition.

From Texas to California, these inspections stations are right at the border, as required under Congressional directives for the Pilot program. Every truck crossing the border gets a visual inspection and document inspection. If something is apparent, they are pulled in for a random level I. It is a system that works.

As I dropped my trailer in the transfer yard, I was looking around for the dangerous unsafe junk trucks that Spencer and Hoffa insist are the norm rather than the exception. Not surprisingly, I found none, unless you count the ones retired from service, and sitting in the lots with bald flat tires, busted windshields covered with layers of dust from years of inactivity.

What I did see, at this one location, and others on the highway, were a fleet of late model, 2002 or newer, Internationals and Freightliner Centuries.

All the units were dual registered, in California and Baja California. Most had current CVSA stickers indicating they had been through a level 1 inspection recently. And oddly enough, since they are always talking about security issues south of the border, most of these units had a sign on the side of the cab, in English and Spanish (sorry all you English only freaks) that said, and I paraphrase,
This truck equipped with a GPS tracking unit. The driver does not know where it is, how it works or how to disable it”

Kinda hoaky but probably effective.

Most of the transfer yards are within spitting distance of the border crossing. In the case of Crown Express, three blocks. Crown Express is the service agent for my company, Celadon, Messilla Valley and others.

So the length of haul for these trucks is 3 blocks in the US and maybe 10 miles into the Tijuana industrial areas, although many are equi-distance on the Mexican side.

I spoke with the dispatchers in the office, all who spoke perfect English despite living in Tijuana and commuting to work in the US.

One of the questions asked was about the alleged Army or Police escorts that some have claimed are a regular occurrence escorting trucks to the border crossing on the Mexican side. They didn’t know what I was talking about and denied it happening. In addition, the highjacking of trucks, allegedly an every day occurrence, if you listen to the opposition, rarely happens.

An interesting day as tomorrow promises to be. If I have the time, I plan on further efforts to debunk the claims of the opposition, concerning border operations in this area.