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Maya Train Chugs through Ruins
News Bytes 10/21/2020 11 Comments

Experts in Mexico have detected thousands of buried ancient ruins and artifacts. The discoveries along the route of the “Maya Train” project could slow down the proposed plan—which opponents say threatens native peoples and water supplies.

This summer, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched the start of construction on the Maya Train, his pet project. If built, it would run some 950 miles in a rough loop around the Mexican state of Yucatán.

The train is supposed to connect Caribbean beach resorts to the Yucatán peninsula’s mostly native populations and historic ruin sites. Officials hope to stimulate economic development near the train’s 15 stations. The government says the train will cost as much as $6.8 billion. Others say it will be much more.

Critics contend that López Obrador rammed the project through approvals. They say there wasn’t enough study of its effects on the environment, underground sinkhole caves, and historic sites.

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, involves shooting a pulsed laser at the ground. The technology can give a detailed image of the surface, even through dense vegetation. LiDAR data shows 2,187 “archaeological monuments” along 277 miles of the proposed train route. Experts already knew about the existence of some of the sites, but some are new discoveries.

The term monuments can mean many things: the ruins of a pre-Hispanic Maya home, carved stones, the remains of temple platforms, or other artifacts. It’s not clear how many of each type LiDAR has detected. But experts at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History say at least 91 are large-scale structures like plazas and pyramid or temple platforms.

Institute officials say that the builders of the train must take “specific measures” to avoid damaging the artifacts—even though some were probably disturbed by railway construction decades ago. Those officials have not said whether they believe parts of the train route will need to be rerouted.

The Mayas formed a sprawling empire of city-states across the Yucatán and Central America between 2,000 B.C. and A.D. 900. Their descendants still live on the peninsula.

Some Mayan communities have filed court challenges against the Maya Train project. They argue that it will cause environmental damage. They also say they were not widely consulted about the plan—or that they won’t share in its benefits.

(Tourists walk at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula in this August 2018 file photo. AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

Not sure what I think about this. The train would be sort of cool, but I do agree with the Mayans that it could cause environmental damage, and I think that they should have been consulted, because it is the ruins of their ancestors, and part of their land.


That does sound kind of scary. Buried ruins and artifacts, eh! Neat! Their president sure has a long name.

What I think about this...

I wonder if the Mayans were able to get a profit out of this what they would think about it then. I mean, they should at least get a share because it's their country like you said, E Y, but If there's no railroad, then there might not be as many people to admire the ruins that the train will 'disturb'. Either way, I hope that the Maya train will be built, and that it will be helpful for everyone. I also think the laser technology is really cool.



Has anyone been to The Ark?

the ark, as in the one in

the ark, as in the one in Kentucky



well i have not, but i really

well i have not, but i really want to go

because i heard it was really

because i heard it was really cool


No I have not been

i hope no people get hurt you

i hope no people get hurt you know people + crublely old ruins =not good outcomes

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