rio grande bridge Workers on the Mexican side of the new bridge.texas tribune

New railway bridge nearly complete

It's the first rail crossing to be built between Mexico and U.S. in a century

At the state level there are some prickly border issues between Mexico and Texas, but on the ground things can be different.

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A railway bridge over the Rio Grande, linking Texas and Tamaulipas, is the first rail crossing to be built between the two countries in more than a century.

The West Rail Bypass Bridge was a long time in the planning — 10 years by one account — but is expected to open to train traffic in November. Construction began on the project in 2010 on the Texas side and early in 2011 on this side of the border.

The bridge is located 10 kilometers northeast of Matamoros and is designed in part to alleviate congestion in that city and in Brownsville, Texas, caused by the existing rail line.

It was expected to open nearly two years ago but was held up by various factors, most notably a dispute over paying for the relocation of x-ray scanning equipment on the American side. The scanning system, which looks for narcotics, illicit cash and other contraband, had to be moved to the new bridge from Brownsville but there was a dispute over who should pay for that.

The value of cross-border railway trade has soared in recent years. According to Bloomberg, it is up 48% in the past five years to a total US $69.8 billion, due in large part to the growth in automotive manufacturing in Mexico.

Sources: Excélsior (sp), Texas Tribune (en)

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