EL PASO, Texas - A new rail crossing into Mexico is being proposed as manufacturing increases in the Borderland region.
The multi-track crossing near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry was discussed during the most recent Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority Meeting Wednesday.
Rail infrastructure in Santa Teresa recently improved with Union Pacific switching yards and cargo transfer to the area.
A feasibility study shows the new rail crossing would cost $471 million on the U.S. side and 2.2 billion pesos on the Mexican side, roughly $115 million.
"This project cannot move on only one side of the border," Eduardo Calvo said. He is the senior project manager for HNTB, one of the groups that conducted the study along with the New Mexico Border Authority, Transconsult and the State of Chihuahua. "We have to make sure our counterparts on the Mexican side, the state of Chihuahua and the federal government, that they are also moving forward," Calvo added.
One of the more interesting possibilities discussed at the CRRMA meeting could be the elimination of tracks and exchange yards like the BNSF off Santa Fe Street in the Chihuahuita neighborhood just south of Downtown El Paso.
If railroads are moving more freight capacity out to the undeveloped desert area, and can move bigger trains more safely without having to worry about railroad crossings and pedestrians, they might decide they no longer need the routes through Downtown El Paso and Juarez.
"I think it would be reasonable to say that to complete the construction and everything, it's not going to happen before 6-7 years," Calvo said.
There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through to get something like an international crossing completed: presidential permits, impact studies, international agreements and more. A BNSF spokesman told ABC-7 the railroad "still needs to consider the feasibility of the move and how it would impact service from an operational and financial standpoint."
So while the proposed international crossing could create up more economic opportunities in the region and even open up more space for development in El Paso, don't expect the signs of the railway to disappear from places like Chihuahuita any time soon.
A crossing like the one proposed has been in the works for decades, but the groups taking part in the feasibility study say they may now move into a preliminary design phase in the near future. To see the full presentation for yourself and what could be on the horizon, you can review the presentation given during the CRRMA meeting. Look under Item 4 on the agenda.