Voters line up at the Plaza Grande in Merida, Yucatan, on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, to decide the Mayan Train project. Photo: Facebook

Merida, Yucatán — Voters in a two-day referendum overwhelmingly approved the Mayan Train project. A reported 89.9 percent of voters granted their consent.

The project will link five southeastern states by rail. Cancun and Merida will be joined to destinations as far away as Palenque, under the multi-billion-dollar plan.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said the train would run 1,500 kilometers/932 miles across five states. He promoted it as a regional economic development project that would share Cancun’s riches with poorer, more remote tourist destinations.

Turnout was reportedly high at Merida’s voting stations.

Nationally, nearly a million voters lined up to cast votes on the train and nine other initiatives proposed by Lopez Obrador, who takes office Saturday. Other initiatives ranged from a new oil refinery to reforestation, scholarships, pensions and free public internet. All passed convincingly.

A nongovernmental organization, the Arturo Rosenblueth Foundation, conducted the polling. The same NGO ran a referendum that ended construction on the new Mexico City Airport.

Over 1,000 polling stations were installed in 538 municipalities.

“Mexican women and men freely endorsed their willingness to participate in the construction of participatory democracy,” said Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, Lopez Obrador’s spokesman. “The incoming government assumes the responsibility of nurturing the authority entrusted to it at the polls on July 1. We are on the path of decisions that the incoming government has to make with the deliberation and participation of the people.”

In some cases, polling stations extended their hours to accommodate long lines of voters.

In Merida, more than 100 university students served as polling station officials. State police provided security.

With information from Sipse