TIJUANA (Border Report) — Property owners in eastern Tijuana, where a new port of entry is going to be built, are holding up the project by demanding more money for their land.

Felipe Verdugo, Mexico’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation, said residents are asking to be paid what the land will be worth once the border crossing is built instead of its current value.

“The owners are interested in being paid maximum value above appraisal and this is slowing down the land-acquisition process,” he said.

He revealed the appraised value is 4,000 pesos per square meter or about $200.

“Now they want 5,500 pesos,” said Verdugo. “It might be necessary to reconsider the price to see if more money can be paid other than the appraised value.

Verdugo stated this will mean an increase to the budget set aside for the project.

In February, the Mexican government pledged 4 billion pesos, about $200 million, to build the south side of the port of entry.

It also expressed a desire to start work by the end of this year, something that now seems unlikely, according to Verdugo.

“This is an inconvenience, but it will not change our date of completion set for December 2023,” he said.

Verdugo said the Secretary of Defense, which will operate the port of entry, will first build the access road to the facility, four lanes of traffic in each direction.

Then it will begin constructing offices and structures needed for the port of entry.

When completed, a toll will be charged to drivers in both directions.

The money will be shared equally by transportation agencies in California and the Mexican government.