Rebuilding Presidio Railroad Bridge Offers Economic Impact

Rebuilding the international railroad bridge over the Rio Grande connecting Presidio with Ojinaga, Chihuahua, could help bring back the 85-year cattle trade between the two nations.

It also could help build a healthy international trade on other products, a city official here said last week.

Presidio Special Projects Director Carlos Nieto said that security concerns “probably stopped inspections” of cattle moving from Mexico to the United States through Ojinaga.

The large Ojinaga U.S. inspection station was closed in 2012 but re-opened in June 2014.

“It was an alarming and concerning shift for two years from the Texas port of entry to the New Mexico port of entry” at Santa Teresa near El Paso, Nieto said. “Millions if not billions of dollars and hundreds of jobs in Texas went to New Mexico.”

Brad Newton, executive director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, said the railroad bridge may be reopened after it was damaged in a fire in 2009. Also in the works is another bridge that would allow cattle to be driven across on the hoof. And improvements are in the works for the highway and pedestrian bridge.

Nieto said cattle can lose body weight on trucks.

“That creates losses to people selling them if they are not in good condition,” he said. “We should just open a gate and let them walk across. That way the animals are not stressed and do not shrink as much.”

He said improved crossing facilities at Presidio-Ojinaga would provide “at least a competitive advantage” with Santa Teresa.

The south Presidio County Port of Entry is the only one between El Paso and Del Rio.

But much of the cattle trade had moved west to Santa Teresa where they can cross the border by rail because the Rio Grande curves north at El Paso and the border at Santa Teresa is a land crossing.

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