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$400M New Mexico railroad project may open in 2014

SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) -- A $400 million Union Pacific Corp. railroad facility near a young New Mexico border town could open next year, according to the company.

Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said Tuesday that construction near Santa Teresa is ahead of schedule and the facility could be operational in 2014. It had been slated to open in 2015.

"The second phase of construction (which began in July 2012) will finish the yard to include all the mechanical, electrical, architectural, utilities, track and civil engineering portions of the project," Hunt said in a statement.

More than 50 contractors are involved in the project and there is an average of 250 workers on site daily, Hunt said.

The Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo region is still young and development there only started after the Santa Teresa Port of Entry opened in 1993. The New Mexico Border Authority said last year that the port of entry processed more than 81,000 commercial trucks — 13 percent higher than any year on record.

The region's growth has been a keystone to plans by Gov. Susana Martinez for New Mexico economic expansion.

Martinez and officials from Mexico announced in August the creation of a 70,000-acre, master-planned community around the Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo border crossing in an effort to expand the fast-growing border region even more.

Under the plan, the project would create new trade zones, joint health care programs and "quality residential living." Officials said the goal was to create an industrial powerhouse capable of transforming the area into a busy international trading zone.

But unlike other areas, officials hope to prevent unstructured development that has sparked uncontrollable congestion and industrial sprawl.

Last year, Martinez and state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela attended a distribution center groundbreaking in Santa Teresa for Interceramic Inc., a large Mexican ceramic tile manufacturer.