It takes a village and patience to create great achievements.
The achievement in Santa Teresa of the expanded Union Pacific Rail facility is the result of work by many people, organizations and agencies over a long period of time. This will be Union Pacific’s largest fueling facility and the railroads’ largest intermodal freight terminal along the U.S.-Mexico border. Intermodal means it will involve 3 potential 4 of the 5 different modes of transportation, ground, air, rail and space. Sea transportation is the only mode of travel we can’t offer from New Mexico. Only 4 states in the continental United States can make claim space, Florida, Virginia, California and New Mexico. Alaska and Hawaii also have space transportation capability.
Republicans and Democrats at the state and federal level were involved in helping get this project built. Helping industry grow, especially one with the heritage of the rail business in our part of the world makes great economic sense. Most of us know what the railroads did to unite the east and west. Abraham Lincoln was a railroad lawyer; he knew, with good transportation, a nation can grow technically. Telegraph followed the railroads. This new facility, using new scanning and tracking technology, will process more trucks per minute than the other border crossings nearby. With increased traffic will come increased demand for better infrastructure. Fortunately we have congressional and state leadership anticipating this growing demand on our infrastructure. Congressman Pearce alluded to this future growth and its consequences during his remarks last week.
Senator Tom Udall, through his work on Senate Appropriations supported $10 million in federal funding for the Santa Teresa Intermodal Ramp. The project cost approximately $400 million. In 1996, when the North American Free Trade bill was passed, our trade with Mexico was $50 million. Now, our trade with Mexico is over $800 million. Money going into border economies from the drug trade and human trafficking is also part of border commerce. The impacts of the underground market place are in the equation and part of the down side of transportation hubs. In the long run, free legal trade and open markets win over black market economies. Our work in this border community is to stay aware of and participate in keeping a strong healthy local economy growing. We want to keep a hand in creating our own success and look toward partnerships that are win win early on.
Our own local Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA)has been actively involved over the past six years working in conjunction with Union Pacific on economic assessments, legislative issues, workforce development and joint target marketing efforts. Another local I met recently, is an El Paso native Melody LeSage who works for FedEx as their Marketing Special Advisor. She is working with FedEx Space Solutions. On May 19th, FedEx launched the FedEx® Space Desk, a one-stop shop for space industry customers seeking information about shipping everything from satellites and related subsystems to biomedical materials bound for testing or use in space. They understand, as the space business becomes more commercial, use of ground, rail and air transportation will grow. FedEx is working with Space Tango, a small company with offices at NASA Ames Research Center. NASA Ames is involved with our work out at Spaceport America.
All the experiments flown from the spaceport at one time have been in either a car, truck or on a aircraft as they journeyed to and from Spaceport America. Tracking and transportation is part of the space business. Sam Walton said he was not in the retail business; he was in the transportation business. FedEx understands, moving cargo efficiently and keeping track of it, is where the company adds value.
I have reported on the many stories related to sending experiments to space from Spaceport America. Having FedEx involved with us early on in the space transportation industry will add knowledge and commercial capability quickly to this industry. It is needed, as our dependence on the government decreases opening up space for commercial growth. After all, what we are doing out at the spaceport is commercial space transportation. In the future, we hope to create a growing space transportation industry in our region.
The rail industry emerged in the 1840’s, it is not quite two hundred years old. Many companies went broke in the beginning. As space industry cargo continues to move up and down our highways, we can truthfully say, New Mexico is a state where we have unique intermodal transportation capability, air, rail, ground and space transportation thanks to the hard work of people in our community.