Planning still makes sense for railway line
The recent announcement that bidding for a new shipping port in Mexico at Punta Colonet has been suspended was perhaps symbolic of what has occurred at a result of the Great Recession.
Planning for the large seaport in Baja California began in the middle of the last decade before the impact the recession began to be felt here in the United States. It was felt there was a critical need for an additional shipping port on the west coast due to strains on the Port of Los Angeles, at that time the biggest entry point for goods into the United States.
Punta Colonet, a small fishing village, reportedly has a perfect harbor for a new port. The idea was that shippers would send ships there where containers would be unloaded and shipped via train from Mexico to the United States. One proposal was that the train line would go through Yuma.
The passage of trains through our area promised to have big economic benefits. But opposition locally stalled the idea of the train line. Mexican officials began looking for alternatives while continuing the development of the port. Now that, too, seems to have stalled.
The reason given by Mexican officials is that world trade has been reduced due to economic troubles, and therefore there is no longer an economically viable reason for the new port.
The reality is that some have questioned the project from the beginning, wondering if it made sense due to the huge development costs. Still, it is likely it would have gone forward if it was not for the economic downturn – and Yuma might have benefited from it.
Several local public officials told us they don't see this as the end of the project, and we agree. At some point, the world economy will turn around and there will be a growing demand for foreign goods coming in and domestic goods going out of our country. A new port will again be a necessity.
This hiatus is a good time for Yuma area officials to finish their studies of rail possibilities for our region. Even without the port, our area could use better rail service. Factoring in planning for a link to the Mexico port still makes sense. Then Yuma will be ready when the port becomes a reality.