A proposed high-speed rail line between the U.S. and Mexico could improve trade, reduce travel time, and increase tourism between the two countries.
Representative Henry Cuellar – who represents a crazy-shaped district in Texas that runs from the west side of San Antonio, around to the south of the city, then takes a sharp left to the Rio Grande above Laredo and down to McAllen – is the author of the idea. Rep. Cuellar, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner Jeff Austin, and Mexican officials met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss the plan on Thursday.
The proposed high speed rail would run from San Antonio, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico through Laredo, Texas. The trip, which usually takes five hours to drive, not including stops, would take less than two hours on a high speed rail.
High-Speed Rail Between Monterrey and San Antonio
Monterrey is a wealthy industrial and business center in Mexico, and is home to the headquarters of many large Mexican and international corporations. In 2008, the GDP of the city was US$102 billion. More than four million people live in the Monterrey metropolitan area, and several naturally-beautiful areas surround the city. Combined with the year-round gentle climate, this makes it attractive to outdoors enthusiasts as well.
San Antonio, at the other end of the proposed high speed rail line, is similarly bustling with industry. The metro area is about half the size of Monterrey’s, with a little over two million people. Caves, natural areas, and theme parks in the region make it a popular tourist destination. It’s also very romantic, if you’re looking for a nice place for a wedding or weekend getaway.
Funding for Texas High Speed Rail
The project would be a joint effort between the U.S. and Mexico. On the Mexican side, funds are already in place to build the infrastructure necessary for new high-rail lines. Construction is planned to begin in 2015 and be finished as early as 2018.
Funding for high-speed rail on the U.S. side is a little more uncertain, although Rep. Cuellar says he believes the proposed high speed rail would be built using mostly private funds. In recent years, the south Texas economy has relied more and more on construction (and wind farms! We love the wind farms!) Building a high speed rail line through the area would continue the current economic boom.
With trade between the U.S. and Mexico at about US$500 billion, high-speed rail makes good sense for both the local and national economy. But can a deep-red state like Texas take the lead on a light-blue infrastructure project like high-speed rail?