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U.S.-Mexico High-Speed Rail Benefits Discussed

The idea of a high-speed passenger and cargo rail service between Mexico and the United States has taken shape after high-ranking officials from both countries met Thursday.

by Malena Charur - Laredo Morning Times / January 17, 2014

Jan. 17--The idea of a high-speed passenger and cargo rail service between Mexico and the United States has taken shape after high-ranking officials from both countries met Thursday.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation and members of the Mexican delegation met in Washington, D.C., to discuss progress and the economic benefits that would be created with the completion of the project, which would link San Antonio to Monterrey, Mexico.

"It's a historic project that will connect San Antonio, Laredo and Monterrey and also help unite large economies, especially those of our areas," Cuellar said.

The project, which will be presented to Vice President Joe Biden, should have the backing of the U.S. government as it has support on both sides of the border.

"Transportation is important to any country," Cuellar said.

"The fact that stakeholders are present is something that is taken into account for the authorization of this project."

The project is in an advanced state on the Mexican side while it's in the study phase on the U.S. side.

Mexican Congressman Marco Antonio Gonzalez Valdez, of Nuevo Leon, said the state government, like the federal government, has an interest in the project.

"The hardest thing is to get the right of way.

The easiest thing is to build infrastructure," Gonzalez Valdez said, adding that the original idea was for cargo service.

Later the idea was expanded to include passenger service.

Nuevo Leon already has the right of way and is ready to begin construction, as the project has already been approved.

The interest in linking San Antonio to Monterrey was made by Manlio Fabio Beltrones, coordinator of the PRI parliamentary group in the Mexican Congress.

He asked that the project be extended to other cities as far as Queretaro.

Jorge Domene Zambrano, director of the executive office of the Nuevo Leon governor, said they have been working on the project for five years, keeping in mind that investment is coming from both countries as well as input from the public and private sectors.

"We know that there are railroad tracks already in place in the United States, but the U.S. government has appropriated funds to conduct studies to determine the infrastructure to be used. The results will be ready later this year," he said.

Domene Zambrano added that there is a possibility that both countries will need to discuss customs matters involving San Antonio and Monterrey in order for the trip to be non-stop between the cities.

"I think Secretary Foxx looked favorably on this project.

That it is something positive (and would become) a historic project as it will further unite the states and countries," Gonzalez Valdez said.

He said the project would be added to President Barack Obama's agenda when he visits Mexico in February.

(Contact Malena Charur at 728-2583 or at mcharur@lmtonline.com. Translated by Mark Webber of the Times staff.)

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