Kansas City Southern (KCS) on Oct. 31 held a binational groundbreaking ceremony for a second international rail bridge spanning the Rio Grande River from Laredo, Tex., to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
The new single-track span bridge, to be completed by year-end 2024, will be constructed alongside the existing bridge—the only one spanning the river and connecting the two border cities, the Class I railroad reported on Oct. 31. It is slated to “help expedite” KCS and Mexican subsidiary Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) trains through the corridor, relieving traffic congestion in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
Railway Age in September reported that construction was expected to start soon on the $75 million project to boost capacity—crucial for KCS, as its pending merger with Canadian Pacific (CP) to form transnational CPKC (Canadian Pacific Kansas City) would increase cross-border freight traffic.
The U.S. Presidential Permit for construction of the bridge was received in July 2020. KCS said it has been in the project engineering and design phase since 2020 as various construction permits were obtained in the U.S. and Mexico. With this work now complete, construction can begin.
The roughly 1,150-foot-long structure, paid for entirely with private KCS funds, will be built on the right-of-way roughly 35 feet from the existing bridge, allowing trains to operate in both directions at the same time, KCS reported on Oct. 31. U.S. and Mexican construction crews will work concurrently on each side of the international border to complete the project. The project will also include renovation of the existing U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection building in Laredo and reconstruction of a KCS Operations Security Building in Nuevo Laredo, according to KCS.
“Today [Oct. 31] marks the start of construction of a new railroad bridge to meet the needs of North American commerce in the future,” KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer said. “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. This significant private investment in infrastructure, along with 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.”