Border Report: The 'Impossible Railroad' Hits Another Snag | Voice of San Diego

Border Report

Border Report: The 'Impossible Railroad' Hits Another Snag

The Desert Line, a long celebrated but troubled cross-border rail project, has hit yet another setback with missed payments. 

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System recently ended its contract with a company it had signed on to rebuild a dilapidated 70-mile stretch of railroad track between Campo and Plaster City. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Editor’s Note: Our Border Report writer, Sandra Dibble, is traveling through Mexico at the moment, but will be back for our next edition in two weeks with more news from the border region and hopefully, from her travels. We’ve rounded up some recent border news for you in the meantime, including a recent story from Dibble herself ICYMI.

The Desert Line, a long celebrated but troubled cross-border rail project, has hit yet another setback with missed payments. 

Since January 2020, Baja California Rail Road, the company that the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System had signed on to rebuild the dilapidated 70-miles of railroad tracks between Camp and Plaster City, stopped making its agreed-upon lease payments to MTS. So, MTS ended its contract.

Those who have been following the project won’t really be surprised by this news, writes Dibble. 

The latest delay adds to decades of setbacks, including attacks by Mexican revolutionaries, fires, heavy rains, landslides and legal battles.

Read Dibble’s full story here. 

Related: The Union-Tribune reported that despite the setbacks, transit officials say they are not giving up on the rail line and are working to find an operator and construction partner for the project. 

EPA Announces Projects for Tijuana River Sewage Problem

VOSD’s Mackenzie Elmer also had a cross-border sewage update for us. 

The Environmental Protection Agency revealed its narrowed-down list of projects to solve the Tijuana River sewage problem. But the list isn’t narrowed down at all, Elmer writes. 

The EPA doesn’t have the money to do all the projects it would like to, so it’s created a wish-list of sorts, so it can fast-track the planning for the projects. That way once more money becomes available, all the environmental studies will be done and the projects can begin construction.

Elmer details the different projects on the list, which include building a bigger and better South Bay International Wastewater Treatment plant and another project that would cut down on some of the sewage spilling into the ocean from canyons along the border.

In Other News

  • Deported veteran activist, Robert Vivar, returned to San Diego on Veterans Day after spending years in Tijuana. Vivar was deported in 2003, and again in 2013 after returning to the United States illegally. While in Tijuana, he helped others like him through the work of the Unified U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center, as well as asylum seekers. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Small business owners in San Ysidro are breathing a sigh of relief as sales have slightly improved over the last couple of days with the border reopening to vaccinated travelers. Still, some are worried that shipping delays and shortages won’t help keep their shelves stocked for the holidays. (NBC 7) 
  • KPBS interviewed artist Victor Lebowski about his recent decision to become a full-time artist. Lebowski, who recently had a show in Tijuana, captures the border region in his art by blending Mexican icons with Star Wars characters and more. 

To reach Sandra, write to sandradibblenews@gmail.com

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