South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) board members voted to support the reactivation of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway at its May board of directors meeting.
SCEDC support of the “Desert Line” followed a presentation by Karen Landers, general counsel for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), owner of the right of way, and Donald Stoecklein, CEO of Pacific Imperial Railroad Inc. (PIR), the operator of the Desert Line.
The presentation covered the history of MTS’s involvement in the line, events leading up to the 99-year lease with PIR and the economic impact of re-opening the line.
PIR and MTS also discussed the current status of ongoing inspections, certifications and reconstruction of 57 bridges, 17 tunnels, and replacement of track and ties along the 70-mile track, which runs between the U.S.-Mexico border at Division and connects with Union Pacific Railroad in El Centro.
“South County EDC and its members have historically been champions of finding more effective ways to move people and goods across the border. We recognize the economic drain that lengthy border wait times have on our region,” said Cindy Gompper-Graves, president and CEO of South County EDC. “Re-opening the Desert Line will help expedite the import-export process for cargo without compromising national security.”
The geographic location of the Desert Line impacts the Northwest part of Mexico (primarily Mexicali and Tijuana) and Southern California, including South County, which sits in the heart of the California-Baja California bi-national region.
This border region and the border crossings associated is considered the busiest border crossing in the world by some experts.