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High-Speed Rail Possible Between San Antonio, Mexico

November 18, 2013
A high-speed train would spur not only economic development for chronically poor South Texas, but it would also create jobs in Northern Mexico - resulting in a reduction of illegal immigration into the US.

San Antonio, Texas - The idea of a high-speed rail line possibly connecting San Antonio and Laredo with Monterrey, Mexico, is generating excitement on both sides of the border, according to Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Cuellar (D-Laredo) has already discussed the idea with President Enrique Pena Nieto as well as Mexico's top transportation officials in Mexico City last week, and says they are on board. At the request of the governor of the state of Nuevo Leon, Cuellar is helping to arrange a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Cuellar says the high speed rail link could pass through Laredo, or it could pass through the Rio Grande Valley on its way to Monterrey.

"The Texas Department of Transportation will be heading down to Monterrey to look at their facilities," Cuellar told the press. "Pretty soon there will be a recommendation to be made, either one route or two routes down to the border from San Antonio."

He said Mexico already has the right-of-way, as well as the only railroad presidential permit from Monterrey to Colombia on the Mexican side, site of the Colombia-Solidarity International Bridge outside Laredo. Once the route is decided on the US side, "they will start negotiating any right-of-way and environmental issues with the rail companies."

"We’re talking eight years, if everything goes fine," Cuellar said. "I think this means the two countries would be getting a lot closer."

Cuellar said the cost has yet to be determined for the Texas portion, but he is hoping for federal, state, local, and private sector funding. "It would be a win-win-win for all three cities in terms of tourism and business, further strengthening their existing ties," he said. "This is a very exciting project."

The project would spur not only economic development for chronically poor South Texas, but it would also create jobs in Northern Mexico, which would help reduce illegal immigration into the US. The rail line could also carry products from the Mexico Maquilladora plants into Texas, reducing truck congestion on Interstate 35.

"With customs pre-clearance, they can go from Monterrey to San Antonio or vise-versa in a little over two hours, which is just incredible," said Cuellar.

"High-speed rail would also be a safer travel alternative between the two countries given the risks of driving in northern Mexico, where even buses can be hijacked on the roads. People could travel between cities for shopping or business meetings in a very short time, making the economic opportunities on both sides of the border boundless."

No price tag has been placed on the project, and no funding sources have been identified. Cuellar says it will be another year before a potential route is even determined.