Proposals for this event have been in the works since at least 1975 (see the published document Brownsville-Matamoros Railroad Relocation Demonstration Project, prepared for The Brownsville Navigation District, 1975).
In brief, the tracks affected are, in Brownsville:
Union Pacific's St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific) "B Line" built in 1904 and extending north from Brownsville (milepost B-0.0 at the downtown terminal station), eventually to the Houston area.
Union Pacific's remaining length of the Southern Pacific Brownsville Branch, built 1927 by San Antonio & Ar ansas Pass Railway (later Galveston Houston & Henderson, later Texas & New Orleans). End of track at Brownsville station was milepost 205.2, measured from Skidmore via Alice and Edinburg.
The Brownsville Belt Line, constructed by St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific), that diverged east from the B Line at milepost 1.2, twisted around north of downtown, crossing several SP yard tracks, then seguing onto the alignment of the old Port Isabel & Rio Grande Valley Railway for a few hundred yards before diverging at about milepost 2.5 (from the switch on the B Line), and extending about 11 miles to Southmost, but in 1957 abandoned south of the junction with the Port line described below.
From the Belt Line, at about milepost 2.5 of the Belt Line, the Brownsville Port line was constructed (or converted) in 1936, also on the alignment of the Port Isabel & Rio Grande Valley Railway (which had been built to Port Isabel in 1871 by the Rio Grande Railroad). About 7.5 miles to the northeast, off the B Line, (continuing the Belt Line's mileposts), the line entered the Port of Brownsville (Brownsville Navigation District), and was operated by St Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific) until taken over by Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railroad in February 1984.
Brownsville & Matamoros Bridge Company (owned by jointly by St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico or its sucessors, with Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico) constructed in 1910, about two miles of track to connect its owners yards on opposite sides of the river.
In Matamoros, the line of Ferrocarril Nacional Mexicano was constructed 1883, became Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico "Linea F" from Monterrey in 1908, reaching Matamoros at kilometer F-329.8 from the geographical northwest, roughly paralleling the Rio Bravo. Now operated by Kansas City Southern de Mexico.
The first phase of the project was to build an overpass on Highway 48 over the Port lead track, near the entrance to Port of Brownsville, in 1993.
The second phase, and the first to modify any railroad routing, was constructed in the late 1990s. Starting at milepost 197.8 on the ex-SP Brownsville Branch, new track was laid extending east, southeast and south about 6.5 miles to connect with the existing Port lead near the Port entrance, including a four track yard just north of the Port. Milepost designations are measured from the (unbuilt at the time) junction switch on UP's B Line near Olmito on the westward continuation of the new tr ack: milepost 3.2 to the Port line at 9.3. Sometime between February 2000 amd February 2002, the seven miles of the Brownsville Branch south of Milepost 197.8 to Brownsville were lifted, but removal of yard tracks at Brownsville had been going on gradually for several years already.
Phase three, commencing about 2001 to completion in June 2003, was the remaining 3.2 miles of new line, east from milepost 7.8 on the UP B Line, to the west end of Phase 2. Wye tracks are at the connections with both the B Line and Brownsville Branch, and an eight track, almost 4000 feet long yard lies about midway along the Phase three distance. The former freight yard along the southwest edge of downtown Brownsville was removed, apparently in late 2003, but a single track to and over the B&M Bridge remains. About the same time, or possibly even earlier, the Brownsville Belt Line was taken up west of Arthur Street (milepost 2.3, approximately).
The latest undertaking is to connect Olmito to a new international rail bridge "between River Bend and San Pedro" and thence to Linea F west of Matamoros. Rather generalized published maps [see source 3 below] show new track running about 3 miles west-northwest, turning sharply southward about 4 miles to the site of the new bridge, then in Mexico about 6.5 miles (10.2 kilometers) south or southwest to approximately Estacion Sandoval, kilometer F-311, where there is to be a wye, and a new yard along the 6 kilometers between Sandoval and the Carretera 2 crossing. Most of the new rig ht-of-way, in both Texas and Tamaulipas, is currently farm fields.
Probably, when this is completed circa 2012, the remaining 8 miles of the UP B Line south of Olmito, the B&M Bridge, and several hundred meters of track in Matamoros, including the current station and freight yard, will be abandoned. It will be necessary to retain Linea F west (railroad south) of kilometer F-328 (site of the existing engine terminal) to serve several industrial customers in the western part of Matamoros.
Suggested reading (partial list of sources for the above text):
December 22, 2010
Saludos, Todd Minsk