LAS CRUCES – Officials from New Mexico and its Mexican neighbor, the state of Chihuahua, pledged Thursday to continue laying the groundwork for a new railroad crossing on the border that could drive development in the Santa Teresa area.
Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte told a binational group of officials attending a two-state meeting here that his administration has secured nearly $500,000 from the Mexican federal government to launch planning studies for a railroad bypass leading to a new border crossing.
Mexican trains currently roll through Ciudad Juarez’s congested downtown each night on the way to an international bridge into El Paso.
A railroad bypass would allow those trains to instead head northwest through undeveloped desert from a point south of Juarez to the New Mexico border west of Santa Teresa, while removing a potential hazard from Juarez’s streets and allowing train traffic to cross the border at all hours of the day.
For its part, New Mexico’s Border Authority plans to hire a consultant by early next year to determine the infrastructure needed to operate a new international railroad crossing, said Keith Gardner, Gov. Susana Martinez’s chief of staff.
“Both governors recognize the incredible potential that exists here in this zone,” Gardner said. “He (Duarte) wants it done now.”
The railroad crossing requires the approval of both the U.S. and Mexican executive branches. The financing to construct the crossing and the railroad tracks leading to it has not been determined.
On Wednesday evening, Duarte and Martinez toured several sites along the border, including a Santa Teresa industrial park and a cattle crossing. Members of the governors’ Cabinets met Thursday to discuss ways to cooperate on issues including health, education, public safety and water resources.
“We hope to really work together in how we develop and increase our economic development opportunities between our two states,” Martinez said Wednesday. “We’re both committed to it and we want to make sure that people on both sides of the border have jobs to go to and to economically grow.”
Duarte said Thursday that the region would become more competitive and both states would benefit from a new crossing.
Union Pacific has begun a $400 million project to build a new refueling and cargo-transfer yard in the Santa Teresa area. The yard is expected to be finished by 2015 and employ 600 people.
Just south of the Santa Teresa port of entry, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn has built a huge assembly plant that ships thousands of computers north into the U.S. each day.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal