Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Planned Mexico-U.S. light rail line gets backing

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U.S. light rail operations seldom expand beyond a single state; St. Louis Metro’s MetroLink light rail is a prime exception, while TriMet is willing to grow its LRT operations in Portland, Ore., across the Columbia River into Vancouver, Wash. But two sister cities, one on each side of the Rio Grande, are proposing reinstating light rail service across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Juarez, Mexico, Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz and most of the Juarez City Council have accepted a resolution from their El Paso, Tex., council counterparts pledging that the two cities will work to re-establish a rail link, most likely LRT, between the two cities. The cities also said they’ll support the creation of a high speed rail line from the state of Chihuahua, which includes the city of Juarez, to Denver.

Ferriz said concerns likely to be voiced by U.S. Customs over immigration enforcement would be the biggest obstacle faced by the two cities in any joint effort. But the economic benefit to both cities would be substantial, he said. "The amount of flow that will come to our communities will more than pay for any public investment that is made to get the rail lines out of there," he said.

El Paso and Juarez  were linked by streetcar service until the early 1970s.