Phoenix, Arizona, wants the Punta Colonet mega-port built. And it wants the Punta Colonet rail line to run directly to Phoenix, or more precisely, to a planned “inland port” just west of Phoenix near the White Tank Mountains in Buckeye, Arizona. Both sit in Maricopa County, and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) can smell the business growth that such a multi-modal terminus would generate.
Executive Director Dennis Smith talked to the Arizona Republic about his wish for a huge rail yard west of Phoenix. From there, tracks and interstates would fan out in all directions. First, Mexico has to build the mega-port on its Pacific coast, about 130 miles south of Tijuana. Freight lines would be built and improved to connect to Arizona’s new "inland port" -- a rail, truck and warehouse complex. A new Interstate 11 would be built, running from Phoenix to Las Vegas and possibly beyond.
MAG planners believe that goods from the Pacific Rim can reach the eastern U.S. faster by rail from Punta Colonet via Arizona than by any other land or sea route. Planners' maps show cargo from China taking 26 days to reach New York through the Panama Canal, 20 days through West Coast ports, and 19 via Punta Colonet and Arizona.
The inland port would also be a hub to truck goods more quickly throughout the fast-growing Mountain West. If private developers and investors back the concept, an international freight-forwarding complex would bring new jobs to the Phoenix area. The region could piggy-back on the development, too, taking advantage of new highways or using train tracks for commuter rail.
In July, MAG will launch a $500,000, 18-month study to find out if the freight port would work. Other findings are expected sooner. At the end of the month, AECOM, a planning think tank, will finish its "Global Cities" study. Based on a deep examination of demographic and economic data for urban Arizona, findings will pinpoint a strategy to attract industries and jobs to keep the region globally competitive in the upcoming decades.
In the summer, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s Canamex Task Force, which coordinates development of a Mexico-U.S.-Canadian trade route, will determine if the inland port will work. Early indications are positive, said task force Executive Director Marisa Walker.
Mexico’s government this year is expected to choose where Punta Colonet's freight track would enter the U.S.