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American Shipper

Colonet port bidding to start before December

Colonet port bidding to start before December

The Mexican government plans to start the bidding for contracts to develop the so-called Colonet megaport in Baja California and a rail line to the U.S. border by December.

   While no date has been set to open the bidding, which could reach into the billions of dollars, Mexico’s Undersecretary of Communication and Transportation Manuel Rodr’guez Arregui told the San Diego Union Tribune on Tuesday that he stood by earlier assertions that bidding would start before December.

   Differing versions of the Punta Colonet port plan have ranged in cost from as much a $1 billion to $9 billion and varied in scale from smaller than the Port of San Diego to as large as the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach combined. A possible Mexican rival to the dominant Southern California ports has raised concerns in the American shipping industry about a major shift of cargo south of the U.S./Mexican border. The Colonet port would ship most of its cargo via rail into the U.S. Southwest.

   The Colonet port, located about 150 miles south of San Diego, has been on the drawing boards for several years. It has progressed slowly, however, experiencing numerous delays, including threats by mineral rights owners in Colonet harbor to hold up development. The Mexican government is taking action to cancel the claims of the mineral group, Grupo Minero Lobos.

   In April, Union Pacific pulled out a partnership with Hong Kong-based port operator Hutchison Holdings to bid on the project. The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad has said since that they may look at other partnerships. UP's main rail lines through the U.S. Southwest are the most likely connection point for any rail from Colonet.

   Mexican construction firm Ideal and U.S. marine terminal operator SSA Marine have both indicated that they would compete in bidding for the Colonet project.

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