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KCS sponsored study recommends site for future Laredo-Nuevo Laredo bridge

(Kansas City Southern issued the following on December 10.)

LAREDO, Texas — Kansas City Southern today released a study prepared by TranSystems engineers, a world leader in railroad and transportation engineering, that recommends the so-called "Site 3" between the cities of Rio Bravo and El Cenizo, TX as the preferred location for a future cross-border rail bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. "Site 3 is recommended by TranSystems as the preferred site for the cross-border rail bridge at Laredo and Nuevo Laredo," said the study. "It is the most feasible location to meet all of the region's goals most effectively."

The study was commissioned by KCS and conducted by TranSystems to study the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo area to determine the best location for a new international railroad crossing of the Rio Grande River between the U.S. and Mexico, and to prepare information needed for a U.S. Presidential Permit application to be made by KCS for a new bridge at this location.

In reviewing all options for such a future rail crossing, TranSystems considered whether sites would be suitable for bridge construction and financially feasible, secure, operationally efficient, provide needed capacity, divert international rail traffic around the city centers of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, minimize any displacement of residents or businesses, improve the environment, make existing rail rights-of-way available for other public purposes, be consistent with TxDOT's long range East Loop bypass plans, improve the flow of rail traffic and vehicular traffic, and minimize stranded rail assets vital to international rail operations in the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo area. Taking into consideration all of these considerations, TranSystems recommends Site 3.

"Clearly, of the five sites we reviewed in this study, the Site 3 location is hands down the best," said James L. Terry, principal and vice president of TranSystems. "Site 3 will produce the most viable location for improving border security and efficiency; remove through rail traffic from the city centers of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo; and best accommodate railroad operating needs and environmental concerns for the future."

Site 3 is located between the cities of Rio Bravo and El Cenizo, TX, southeast of the current Laredo crossing. It would be outside the developed areas of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, but allow vital connections to the three rail yards - Union Pacific's Port Laredo, The Texas Mexican Railway Company's Laredo Yard, and Kansas City Southern de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.'s (KCSM) Sanchez Yard - to remain in use. This is very important so as to not leave stranded these vital rail yards, which are essential to international rail traffic. Other crossing alternatives would leave one or more of these yards stranded.

The study listed many benefits of Site 3 over other alternatives that were also reviewed. These benefits include completely removing international freight traffic and vehicular conflicts from congested city centers in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, providing connections to the existing rail yards, improving safety and security, increasing future rail capacity that is operationally viable, making the existing rights-of-way through Laredo and Nuevo Laredo and the current rail bridge potentially available for other public uses (including possible commuter uses), and improving the environment while reducing environmental risks as compared to other crossing alternatives.

The TranSystems study also considered other rail crossing alternatives including the Columbia-Camino site, the Flecha Lane site, and Sites 1 and 2 southeast of Laredo. For a variety of reasons, the study found all of these alternatives to be inferior to Site 3.

"Site 3 is superior in every consideration for a future international rail crossing to these other alternatives," said Terry of TranSystems. "We looked closely at all of them and Site 3 is the obvious choice both from a public benefit and from a railroad operating point of view."

In late October of this year, KCS announced its intent to seek on an expedited basis a U.S. Presidential Permit and Mexican federal authority to construct a new international rail bridge over the Rio Grande River in the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo area. The company believes Site 3 is the best alternative and would retain the trade-based economy for Laredo and Nuevo Laredo for decades to come. The TranSystems study released today provides some of the preliminary engineering that will be needed for KCS to prepare both its U.S. and Mexican permit applications.

"We intend to accelerate our permit application process in the U.S. and Mexico so that this project can move forward on an accelerated basis," said Warren K. Erdman, executive vice president corporate affairs for KCS. "This project and its East Loop Bypass Corridor alignment will be the best way to get rail traffic out of downtown Laredo and Nuevo Laredo in the future, expand rail capacity, improve safety and convenience for motorists, enhance security along the entire corridor, and provide both the public and private benefits to make this a win-win for everyone."

Erdman said KCS plans to begin preparing its U.S. and Mexican permit applications immediately and file them as soon as possible in 2008. He said KCS will work closely with local and state officials in Texas and Tamaulipas to coordinate the project going forward and hopes to have a detailed application for both U.S. and Mexican officials to review before the end of 2008.

KCS currently has a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Tamaulipas and the City of Nuevo Laredo to work together on the project and has briefed officials from TxDOT as well as local elected officials in Laredo and Webb County.

The detailed TranSystems study is available at www.kcsouthern.com.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., KCS is a transportation holding company that has railroad investments in the U.S., Mexico and Panama. Its primary U.S. holding is The Kansas City Southern Railway Company, serving the central and south central U.S. Its international holdings include KCSM, serving northeastern and central Mexico and the port cities of Lázaro Cárdenas, Tampico and Veracruz, and a 50 percent interest in Panama Canal Railway Company, providing ocean-to-ocean freight and passenger service along the Panama Canal. KCS' North American rail holdings and strategic alliances are primary components of a NAFTA Railway system, linking the commercial and industrial centers of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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