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South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) board members recently voted in favor of supporting the reactivation of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway, or Desert Line, in Southern California and northwestern Mexico.The vote followed presentations by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), which owns the right of way, and Pacific Imperial Railroad Inc. (PIR), which would operate the Desert Line under a 99-year lease with MTS.The presentations reviewed the economic impact of reopening the line, and the status of ongoing inspections, certifications and reconstruction work on 57 bridges and 17 tunnels. To upgrade the 70-mile Desert Line — which runs between the U.S.-Mexico border at Division and connects with a Union Pacific Railroad line in El Centro, Calif. — track and ties also will be replaced.The border region and associated border crossings are considered the busiest in the world by some experts, said PIR Chief Executive Officer Donald Stoecklein in a press release. Reopening the Desert Line would help eliminate some of the inefficiencies at the border crossing, he said."The support of SCEDC is another step in facilitating the rail project, which connects the Maquilatropolis region of Baja California, to the Eastern United States," said Stoecklein.Added SCEDC President and CEO Cindy Gompper-Graves: "Reopening the Desert Line will help expedite the import-export process for cargo without compromising national security."
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