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Freight Economy

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FHWA's Roundtable on the Freight Economy: San Diego, California

Date: March 21, 2016

Our Host: Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Key Regional Transportation Facilities and Freight Hubs

HIGHWAYSI-5, I-8, I-15, I-805, SR-7, SR-11. SR-86 SR-186 and SR-188
RAILROADSBNSF, Union Pacific, San Diego and Imperial Valley, Desert Line Railroads
AIRPORTSSan Diego International Airport
WATERBORNEPort of San Diego, M-5 Marine Corridor
BORDER PORTSan Ysidro, Otay Mesa , Otay Mesa East (SR 11, proposed), Tecate, and Calexico East (Imperial county)

Freight Facilities

Source: CalTrans, SANDAG

Stakeholders Represented by the Following:

What the future of freight will look like for the region:

Top 5 Commodities by Value 2045

Commodity Value (millions $) % of total
Electronics 116,864 31%
Precision instruments 35,627 9%
Machinery 29,861 8%
Mixed freight 28,261 7%
Motorized vehicles 25,832 7%
All commodities 379,945 100%

Top 5 Commodities by Weight 2045

Commodity Tons (thousands) % of total
Nonmetal min. prods. 9,808 10%
Other foodstuffs 8,931 9%
Natural sands 7,383 8%
Mixed freight 6,977 7%
Waste/scrap 6,959 7%
All commodities 96,911 100%

Trading Partners 2045

Outbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
California 4,239 27%
Mexico 2,974 19%
Canada 2,049 13%
Eastern Asia 1,699 11%
Texas 740 5%
Total outbound 15,748 100%

Inbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
California 21,563 52%
Eastern Asia 4,921 12%
Mexico 3,095 7%
Rest of Americas 3,026 7%
Canada 2,218 5%
Total inbound 41,287 100%

Based on FAF4.1 data with base year 2012 and forecasts up to 2045

Modal Freight Share by Tonnage, 2012 and 2045

The San Diego Area will see multimodal freight activity grow by nearly 65% in tonnage terms and more than double by value between 2012 and 2045.

The San Diego region’s freight activity is mostly domestic (85% by value and 89% by tonnage) but international freight value will likely quadruple by 2045.

San Diego’s share of truck freight activity is significantly higher (92%) than the national average (70%; tonnage based).

Major north-south corridors (I-5, I-805, and I-15) handle much truck activity. SR 125 connects to Otay Mesa port via SR 905. I-8 runs east- west, connecting CA to AZ.

A SANDAG study on operational strategies related to the use of managed lanes by trucks is currently underway.

Right now, San Diego’s major trading partner by both value (over one third) and tonnage (over half) is the rest of California.

By 2045, trade with the rest of the state will still be key but international trade will increase, especially with Mexico and East Asia.

Freight Intensive sectors such as trade, manufacturing, transportation, and construction account for almost 44% (out of 1.2 million) jobs in the San Diego region. Freight is an economic driver of the region.

Trade value at San Diego’s Otay Mesa gateway (the main land port in the region and California’s largest port of entry with Mexico) was $39.2 billion in 2014. Carried by over 1.6 million truck crossings annually, key commodities in this U.S.-Mexico trade are electronics, agricultural goods, vehicles, and medical devices.

The most significant freight bottleneck in the San Diego Area is at the I-5 and U.S. 163 interchange. Delays at and around the Otay Mesa land port of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border also produce a key regional freight bottleneck.

Sources for Freight Facts: FAF, BLS, ATRI, Caltrans and SANDAG

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Page last modified on August 29, 2017
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