An alternative to the Panama Canal

After over 14 years of study, the linking of the ports of Salina Cruz in the Pacific and Coatzacoalcos in the Gulf of Mexico may finally become a reality to form the

Trans-isthmus Corridor

Moving containers from one side to the other of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec was a bureaucratic quagmire since containers need to be checked in customs houses on each side of the transit. Also, Coatzacoalcos has no permanent terminal since the port is only used to service the petrochemical industry. There is an efficient railroad line that crosses from one port to the other, but costs are very high and containers must pay for operations at both ports in addition to rail charges.

Gilberto Rios, head of Coatzacoalcos Port, says the idea is to have one company operate both ports in tandem with the railroad to avoid double customs procedures and to offer containers arriving from Asia a unified rate.

He also notes that Coatzacoalcos has acquired roughly 125 acres (50 hectares) to build a container terminal at the Pajaritos Lagoon, right next to the city. Construction bids will be opened later this spring.

This corridor claims to attract some 300,000 TEUs a year from Asia. Rios says that under the new option, containers coming from Asia could be moved from the Pacific to the Atlantic in 24 hours rather than 28 days, which has been known to happen at the Panama Canal.

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