McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Officials and dignitaries recently gathered on both sides of the border to simultaneously break ground on a new rail bridge that officials say will double commerce between the U.S. and Mexico.
The new binational rail bridge is being built parallel, and just feet from the existing international rail bridge connecting Laredo, Texas, to Nuevo Laredo, for what is to be the second rail span to go north and south at this junction of the border.
At the binational ceremony on Oct. 31, Kansas City Southern President and CEO Patrick Ottensmeyer said the new bridge will allow “our trains to operate northbound and southbound at the same time, significantly improving capacity and efficiency across the border.”
It’s part of an aggressive binational river project between the two international cities.
The $100 million project is being financed entirely by Kansas City Southern, which already owns the other international train bridge and believes this will increase cross-border trade and traffic by doubling the number of rail cars that come and go.
It’s “the start of construction of a new railroad bridge to meet the needs of North American commerce in the future,” Ottensmeyer said in a statement. “Upon completion, the second span of the International Bridge will keep Laredo-Nuevo Laredo at the center of North American trade and make this vital USMCA trade corridor safer, more fluid and secure, and relieve traffic congestion in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.”
Kansas City Southern also is in the process of trying to get regulatory approval to combine with Canadian Pacific Railway to create the first North American trans-continental railroad to connect the entire North American countries of Mexico, the United States and Canada. The merger is pending U.S. Surface Transportation Board approval, officials told Border Report.
“The proposed combination of Canadian Pacific and KCS, pending regulatory approval, will connect customers on both sides of the border to new markets, enhance competition in the U.S. rail network and drive economic growth across North America,” Ottensmeyer said.
“This is really historic. It has been over 100 years since we built the first bridge,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said during the groundbreaking ceremony.
The ceremony on the U.S. side was attended by leaders and dignitaries from the United States, including U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. Meanwhile, Mexican officials held their own groundbreaking ceremony simultaneously just south of the border in Nuevo Leon.
And both groups turned dirt at the same time. Then the dignitaries rode two trains to the center of the existing line and met together in a binational greeting to signify the joining of both countries and the future trade possibilities to come.
“Every minute over $1 million in goods cross between the U.S. and Mexico., and this will add to this in the future,” Cuellar said. “The new double-track will enable trains to pass without stopping.”
The new 1,150-foot-long international rail bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com