Border economy on minds of Union Pacific, New Mexico senator

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Union Pacific crews swap at Santa Theresa, N.M.
William P. Diven
WASHINGTON — A U.S. senator who paid a recent visit to the rail and intermodal hub at Santa Teresa, N.M., says he welcomes news that President Trump apparently won't threaten a government shutdown if his border wall is not in a must-pass budget bill this week.

However, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., remains a sharp critic of the president and of the proposed wall.

"The border zone is a bright spot in our state’s struggling economy, thanks to a productive trade relationship with Mexico, but President Trump’s rhetoric and policies risk throwing all of that away," Udall says in a statement released Wednesday.

Santa Teresa was once the dusty and remote helper station of Strauss atop the Southern Pacific grade out of the Rio Grande valley at El Paso, Texas. Today it reflects the money Union Pacific has poured into this section of the Sunset Corridor.

Uninterrupted double-track now extends along and near the border from El Paso nearly to California, and more than $400 million turned Strauss into Santa Teresa Terminal with its seven main tracks, fueling racks, and adjacent intermodal ramp and classification yard.

The ramp can handle 225,000 lifts a year with room to expand. UP refers to Santa Teresa as an inland port.

The new facilities opened in 2014 and are connected to Mexico by a 6-mile heavy-duty concrete highway that allows overweight trucks to travel between manufacturers south of the border and the two industrial parks straddling UP's main. Immediately south of the border is Foxconn, one of the world's largest electronics manufacturers.

UP has been one beneficiary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump repeatedly blamed during his campaign for lost U.S. jobs and says he plans to renegotiate. A lengthy discussion on the Inside Track section of UP's notes the 10 border states — four in the U.S. and six in Mexico — constitute the fourth largest economy in the world.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Border Commission continues to study bringing BNSF Railway out of the Rio Grande valley and creating an international rail crossing at Santa Teresa. Both BNSF and UP are participating in the study, but neither seems anxious to abandon their current crossings of the Rio Grande between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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