BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS, U.S. — On Aug. 25 U.S. and Mexico launched the first new rail link between the two countries in more than a century, in the Texas border city of Brownsville.

The West Rail Bypass International Bridge connects Brownsville, Texas, U.S., with Matamoros, Mexico, its neighboring city across the border, and will carry freight between the two countries, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

The West Rail Bypass, which broke ground in December 2010, replaces the Brownsville-Matamoros (B&M) Rail Bridge, which was completed in 1910. The new crossing is designed to alleviate urban congestion and address safety concerns by re-routing rail traffic out of the most populated areas in Brownsville and Matamoros, while expanding regional transportation capacity the department said.

The flow of traffic, goods, and people in both Matamoros and Brownsville will improve substantially as will environmental conditions in the region. Crossing times between both countries for passenger and cargo vehicles will be reduced, boosting regional economic development.

“In an increasingly globalized economy, our collective competitiveness depends on our ability to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to develop a modern, efficient, and secure border,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “That is why we are prioritizing the development and execution of border infrastructure projects like this one.”

There are currently eight rail crossings between the U.S. and Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

All the locations are equipped with X-ray systems that can scan arriving rail traffic. There are also Border Patrol agents and sniffer dogs for on-site inspections, it said.

Nearly $1.5 billion of goods cross between the U.S. and Mexico each day.
Approximately 80% of U.S.-Mexico goods trade crosses our border via road and rail.
U.S. imports from Mexico contain as much as 40% U.S. content, which means U.S. and Mexican-made goods often cross the border multiple times in the course of being turned into a final product.

Mexico is the third-largest bilateral goods trading partner of the U.S., according to the Office of the U.S. Trade.