Southern California politicians and business leaders held a press conference here Monday to urge the U.S. Congress to fund the renovation of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world's busiest border crossing.

The House Appropriations Committee needs to approve the spending of $226 billion to complete the second and third phases of the project, a group including Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) and former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said.

Delays crossing into the United States from Mexico at San Ysidro cost Southern California's economy $7 billion a year, a study by the San Diego Association of Governments concluded.

Officials on both sides of the border embarked in 2009 on a project to modernize and expand the infrastructure to reduce wait times.

Mexico completed its part of the plan in 2012, according to Sanders, who now heads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A commitment by Congress to fund the remaining phases of the project would be "the best Christmas present the binational region could receive," Sanders said.

An estimated 50,000 vehicles enter San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, via San Ysidro every day, along with roughly 25,000 pedestrians.

The House Appropriations Committee is due to take up the issue of San Ysidro funding next month. EFE