Proposal to Reopen Railroad to Mexico Gains Steam

U.S. and Mexican investors have been working together to resurrect a dilapidated cross-border rail line that runs from Plaster City, CA through Mexico and back up to San Diego, as reported in early 2013 by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Recently more support has come on board while California continues to bleed successful businesses to business-friendly states like Texas.

The portion of the line the Pacific Imperial Railroad intends to restore and reopen is the Desert Line, which runs from Plaster City in Imperial County and ends in Tecate, Mexico, according to a report by Times of San Diego.

Pacific Imperial Railroad President and legal respresentative Donald Stoecklein told the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, “The primary goal is to move product out of the maquiladora region” in a February 2013 meeting at the Mexico Business Center, according to the U-T. The railroad signed a 50-year lease, and 49-year renewal option, with MTS in December of 2012.

Maquiladoras, Mexican manufacturing facilities, are set to benefit from the restored rail line, as noted by the Times. These principal American and international exporters include Toyota, Hyundai, Mattel, Bose and Samsung.

Toyota recently made the decision to move significant portions of its operations out of California, Kentucky and New York and in to Texas. Moving California operations is projected to affect some 3,000 Toyota employees as well as numerous local businesses in the Torrance area.

The U-T reported in February 2013 that Christina Luhn of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp (EDC) said she was “guardedly optimistic” over efforts to reopen the Desert Line. In a vote of support for the project, David Moreno of the Tijuana Economic Development Council was also quoted by the U-T: saying, “We are certain that if we start rebuilding the line, companies would increase their investments.”

President and CEO of the South County EDC Cindy Gompper-Graves, quoted by the Times, expressed support: “Reopening the Desert Line will help expedite the import-export process for cargo without compromising national security.”

The Times noted U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske as reporting the cost of staffing the port of entry for the railway would be borne by the federal government.

Costs to refurbish the railway have been previously estimated at upwards of $120 million. Built in 1919, the line currently requires considerable work to return to safe conditions. The Times details 57 bridges, 17 tunnels and considerable track and tie replacements among needed repairs.

Map courtesy Pacific Imperial Railroad


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