In a record time of just five months, President Trump signed off on a presidential permit for a second international rail bridge to cross the Rio Grande at Laredo. The president announced approval of Kansas City Southern's permit for a parallel bridge while on a visit to Midland last week, citing that the bi-nation rail span will help export Texas crude to Mexico.
The single track "sister bridge" is to be constructed adjacent to the existing rail bridge, which is west of downtown Laredo.
Warren K. Erdman, executive vice president of administration and corporate affairs at KCS, said that the current bridge is reaching capacity. “On a given day the bridge will serve crossings of anywhere from 23 to 30 trains per day. This second bridge will allow for operation in both directions simultaneously, moving trains out of Laredo faster," according to Erdman.
KCS will be conducting design and engineering studies of the new bridge while they obtain other required construction permits from the U.S. and Mexico. Expected completion of the new span is two to three years. Final costs are still to be determined.
KCS spokesperson Doniele Carlson, said that U.S. exports are expected to increase under the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Congressman Henry Cuellar said that to alleviate traffic issues in downtown and west Laredo, KCS would elevate their tracks so vehicles wouldn't have to wait as long at train crossings. "There will be trains going south and north, and then that train will then elevate through the streets of Laredo for about nine miles." Cuellar said the permit approval was one of the fastest he could recall.