BNSF Railroad plans to create a multi-modal logistics center at a New Mexico site known as Rancho Cielo that will include distribution, warehousing and manufacturing facilities, BNSF said at a public meeting in Belen last week.

Located in Valencia County, Belen has a rail line parallel to Rancho Cielo, which includes 6,000 acres of land west of Interstate 25. BNSF plans to connect to the Belen line, said LaTonya Finch, regional manager of economic development.

Fort Worth-based BNSF, the nation’s largest railroad, has six transcontinental lines, three running north-south and three running east-west. A intermodal corridor crosses Valencia County with a transcontinental fueling facility in Belen. The corridor moves $3.9 trillion of products.

BNSF will act as a development advisor and will market the Rancho Cielo site with plans to lure more on-site industrial facilities.

The hub will have rail, road, air and seaport distribution service to local, national and international customers supporting the global supply chain. Bond-financed utilities in Rancho Cielo are complete with water and sewer availability, Finch said, as well as fiber optics and hydrogen fuel pipelines running along the corridor.

Under former Gov. Bill Richardson’s $1.6 billion bond plan for transportation passed in 2003, multi-modal logistics hubs gained higher priority because of their potential for economic development.

In April, Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law a bill passed by the Legislature granting Union Pacific a locomotive fuel-tax deduction. The legislation paved the way for Union Pacific to invest $400 million for a new rail facility near Santa Teresa. The Santa Teresa facility will relieve pressure on the landlocked UP rail hub in El Paso that serves as an entry point for freight from Mexico, as well as transcontinental cargo.

Nicknamed “Hub City” because of the Belen Cutoff of the former Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, Belen sees an average of 110 trains in 24 hours. Before the cutoff was created, train traffic came through the steep Raton Pass on the Colorado and New Mexico border.

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