Photo: Sipse

Mexico will likely directly grant the contract for the fourth phase of its Mayan Train project to the country’s largest construction company without a bidding process.

ICA bought the concession for the highway that connects Cancun to the interior of the Peninsula in 2008. Now that’s given as the reason to hand them the contract. The train’s tracks will run parallel with the toll road.

“It’s the simplest way, since it has the concession… It has to be directly awarded, taking them out and putting in another company is more complicated,” said Rogelio Jimenez, head of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), in an interview with El Financiero.

The rail project is a top priority of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who hopes it will be a major generator of jobs in Mexico’s poorer south.

A Fonatur spokesman said further details would be announced in the coming days.

Contracts for the first, second and third phases of the train were granted through public bidding contests that attracted dozens of companies. Winners included firms controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. The fourth phase runs from Izamal to Tulum.

The 1,470-km / 913-mile rail line is designed to connect tourist hot spots from Chiapas state to the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast, including the popular Maya ruins of Palenque and Chichen Itza to the beach resort Cancun.

ICA had also been tapped to help build a $13 billion Mexico City airport, a flagship project of former President Enrique Pena Nieto that was scrapped by his successor Lopez Obrador, who claimed it was too costly and tainted by corruption.