The public will decide the fate of the Mayan Train project in Mexico

Mexico’s president-elect said Monday he will hold another public referendum later this month on his proposal for a railway to connect the main tourist attractions across the Yucatan peninsula.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during a trip to the Yucatan state capital of Merida that the public can vote on the train and nine other proposed projects and programs Nov. 24 and 25.

A referendum last month canceled Mexico City’s new $13 billion airport that was already one-third completed.

Lopez Obrador has said the train would run 932 miles (1,500 kilometers) across five states. He promotes it as a regional economic development project that would share the economic boom of Cancun’s world-class beach resorts with poorer, more remote parts of the south.

Another project on the ballot will be the construction of an oil refinery in his home state of Tabasco as well as social programs such as giving scholarships to students and pensions to seniors.

Lopez Obrador said he would openly push for public support because they are campaign promises. He won election July 1 in a resounding victory and will take office Dec. 1.

The referendum, like the last one, will be conduction by a private nonprofit, the Rosenblueth Foundation.

Thousands of people marched in Mexico City on Sunday in favor of the new airport project and against the idea of public referendums.

The proposed “Mayan train” would run from Cancun south through Tulum and to the Mayan ruins of Palenque. A spur would include the cities of Campeche, Merida, and Valladolid. Lopez Obrador previously said it would cost $6 billion to $8 billion.

The region is full of jungle, wetlands, wildlife reserves, and pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, but Lopez Obrador said Monday that there would be no environmental impact. He said it would be offset by a simultaneous project to plant about 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of fruit and timber trees in southern Mexico.

“The truth is that I have polls and I’m very confident that the people are going to vote to build the Mayan train, because it won’t hurt anyone. On the contrary, it will benefit a lot of people,” he said.

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