Despite setbacks, President López Obrador remains determined to build the final two sections of the Maya Train project and a new international airport in Tulum, Quintana Roo.
Speaking in Tulum alongside Quintana Roo Governor Mara Lezama and army officials on Saturday, López Obrador said that the government will announce inauguration dates for sections 6 and 7 of the 1,500-kilometer railroad and the airport in three weeks.
It wasn’t clear whether he was referring to the dates that construction of the railroad sections and the airport will start or the dates they will begin operations. The army has been assigned responsibility for building all three projects.
With 550 kilometers of tracks, sections 6 and 7 will connect Tulum to Escárcega, a municipality in southern Campeche.
López Obrador said last month that construction of the Maya Train railroad in southern Quintana Roo and Campeche was in doubt due to the opposition of local landowners. But leaders of five of six ejidos – community-owned parcels of land – have now agreed to sell their land, the newspaper La Jornada Maya reported Monday.
As for the planned airport – first announced in late 2020 – the environmental impact of the project is currently being evaluated, the federal Environment Ministry (Semarnat) said in a statement Friday.
There were reports and social media posts asserting that Semarnat had determined that the project is “unviable” after the Ministry of National Defense submitted documents in August seeking environmental and “change of land use” authorization, but the ministry denied that was the case.
“[It’s] important to clarify that the official letter that has been disseminated via publications on social media is part of one of the administrative procedures Semarnat carries out in response to requests from both public and private developers. However, it should be noted that the official letter issued by Semarnat at no time described the Tulum airport project as unviable, and therefore we believe that the information published, as well as the official letter presented, were manipulated,” the ministry said, adding that a crime may have been committed.
“There is no reference in the publications to the fact that the project … [is subject to] a new and active evaluation process. … The purpose of clarifying … this disinformation is to avoid confusion … and guarantee the transparency with which the government of Mexico is run,” Semarnat said.
López Obrador has previously said that the Tulum airport will open in 2023, while the US $10 billion tourist, commuter and freight railroad – which will connect cities and towns in five southeastern states – is also slated to begin operations next year.
The president inspected progress of the latter project from the air on Sunday, and posted footage of his flyover to social media.
“There are 184 kilometers from Mérida to Campeche and 37 kilometers of tracks – 20% [of the distance] in other words – have been laid,” he wrote above the footage.
De Mérida a Campeche hay 184 kilómetros y se han tendido 37 kilómetros de vía, o sea, el 20 por ciento. Parece poco, pero no son tacos de cochinita pibil ni pan de cazón. El Tren Maya va. pic.twitter.com/HdVCoYsW6I
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) November 7, 2022
“It doesn’t seem like much but [laying tracks isn’t like eating] tacos de cochinita or pan de cazón,” he wrote, mentioning two Yucatán Peninsula gastronomic specialities. “The Maya Train is going ahead.”