Mexico's government is preparing to open bidding on the largest infrastructure project in the nation's history, a $4-billion seaport that could transform this farming village into a cargo hub to rival the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Los Angeles Times reports.


If completed as planned by 2014, the port would be the linchpin of a new shipping route linking the Pacific Ocean to America's heartland. Vessels bearing shipping containers from Asia would offload them here on Mexico's Baja peninsula, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, where they would be whisked over newly constructed rail lines to the United States.


The massive development, which is to be privately funded, is attracting interest from heavyweights such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu. The world's second-richest man is part of a consortium planning an "aggressive" run at the project, according to Miguel Favela, general director of Mexican operations for cargo terminal operator MTC Holdings of Oakland.


Favela said MTC had teamed up with Slim's IDEAL infrastructure company and Mexican mining and railroad giant Grupo Mexico in an effort to nab the 45-year concession.


Mexico's transportation secretariat will release the request for proposal in June and hopes to select a winner by summer 2009, Subsecretary Manuel Rodriguez Arregui said in an interview earlier this month.


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