The project, now in the definitive stages, to turn the bay (Bahía Colonet) near Punta Colonet, a desolate and sparsely inhabited inlet, into a multi-billion dollar deep water mega-container port able to handle next-generation vessels. The mega-port will cover 30 km² which more than 70 km², making it as large as the U.S. ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach combined. The projected multimodal maritime center would make Punta Colonet the largest port in Mexico and the third-largest in the world, after Singapore and Hong Kong. Port operations will require a city of up to 200,000 people. The project will require a new power plant and a desalination plant. The port will also require a 300 km plus (200 miles) rail line from the Port to reach the United States border and an intermodal facility.
The port urgently needs to be built. Right now, containers have to be shipped in the port at Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán where expansion is currently underway to increase volumes, due to congestion at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland, which is even farther, as most expnassion plans in US ports are not aggressive enough.
Lázaro Cárdenas is used now on a small scale as a shipping gateway to interior US cities such as such as Chicago, Kansas City, and Houston, as it is closer to the heart of the continent than Los Angeles. Puerto Colonet on the other hand would be closer to fast growing Arizona, Nevada and other mountain states and could serve as a bypass to the congested Los Angeles region with a comparable distance to those markets, and it would be over a thousand kilometers closer than the port at Lázaro. Currently, ships often have to wait a week to unload in the Los Angeles region, and large truck congestion is a big problem on the Interstate 710 and other connecting higways in the LA Basin.
Thus, ports and jobs could be kept in the US, but at a much higher overall cost, as much of California's infrastructure is already maxed out.
The mega-port also would be expected to be a boon to the Baja California regional economy, providing several hundred thousand jobs directly or indirectly. A city nearby will need to be built, and highways and railways upgraded, providing vast economic growth potential.
Baja California currently enjoys a 6% anual growth rate.
The latest plan as of August 2007 is that former Baja California governor, Ernesto Ruffo Appel is putting together a new consortium to bid on the concession (and to build and run the mega-port) from the federal government. With the election victory of PAN gubernatorial candidate José Guadalupe Osuna Millán over former Tijuana mayor and PRI candidate Jorge Hank Rhon, the optimism is that the new governor will take the appropriate steps necessary to encourage rapid rail and port development within Baja California.
As reported in the Saturday/Sunday, August 4-5, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal, an article by reporter David Luhnow cites that the wealthiest man in the world, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, may be the motive money force behind a new consortium comprising his new construction company Ideal SAB, Grupo Mexico and UP rival, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).
The story is not over as Ernesto Ruffo Appel and his associates buy up land along the Punta Colonet coastline under the name of a group called "Puerto Colonet Infraestructura".
A Los Angeles firm, representing Chinese and Korean concerns, was lobbying the Mexican government to be granted permission to build the multibillion dollar port in the agricultural area of Punta Colonet, 150 miles (240 km) south of Tijuana, to handle between 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) and 6 million TEU of cargo. A mineral rights lobby had a different plan to develop the area as a mining area. However, the mineral rights lobby was bypassed by the Mexican federal government, and the port was planned for bidding and obtained the backing of former President Vicente Fox of the PAN. Los Angeles area ports, likewise, also generally supported the plan as a congestion relief measure.
Ernesto Ruffo Appel, Baja California's former PAN governor and Mexico's ex-border czar, and Ensenada businessman Roberto Curiel Amaya teamed-up to bid on the project. They claimed then that investors from Asia and Europe were committed to Punta Colonet, but declined to divulge their investors identities.
Their plan is to build 18 berths at the port capable of processing 850,000 TEU of containerized cargo annually. The consortium also planned to combine the project with an air-freight airport north of Ensenada. It was reported that instead of running a rail line 180 miles (290 km) across the Baja California peninsula to and then connect the state capital Mexicali and Yuma, Arizona, as the federal plan envisioned, the defunct consortium of HPH/UP ostensibly would have built a line to Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua where rail crossings into the United States already exist. But certainly any such rail line necessarily would run through or near Mexicali, the capital city of the state of Baja California for any tie-in with the US trans-continental rail system.