Thursday, October 20, 2011

UP AZ Action

Union Pacific Rail Road facility may come to Red Rock
By Kristin Smith Today Publications

The establishment of a new Union Pacific railroad facility at Red Rock could bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, as well as provide a massive springboard to help stimulate the economy of Pinal County. Letter of intent described the facility as becoming “the economic engine that will create one of the largest logistics centers in the Western United States.”

Supporters of the proposed Union Pacific switching yard include Senator Al Melvin, Sheriff Paul Babeu, Supervisor Bryan Martyn, State Representative Frank Pratt and State Representative John Filmore.

“Pinal County has taken a position where we are all for it,” said Martyn to Today Publications, “We’re anxious to have this project move forward, and get the jobs associated with it, and increase the economic vitality of Pinal County and central Arizona.”

The land the facility will be built on currently belongs to Arizona State Land Department. At this point Union Pacific has been tasked with providing more information to the Trust the sale of the land can move forward.

In a letter sent to Union Pacific in August, State Land Commissioner Maria Baier wrote, “For this project to mean a true economic boost to Pinal County, the 1,500 acres of State Trust land adjacent to the Reclassification Yard must be highly commercially developed.”

The Trust is interested in making sure the area in which the switchyard proposes be built, will have sufficient access, infrastructure and water. If these needs are met, it is the Trust’s hope that the switching yard will provide a “transportation hub,” stimulating commercial activity in the surrounding lands.

Venessa Hickman, Deputy State Land commissioner, wrote to Today Publications, “Once we have all of the information we can decide whether the project is in the best interest of the Trust and the beneficiaries we serve, predominantly K-12.”

According to Martyn, the location of the switching yard is thought to be ideal, as it will sit about 400 miles away from the ocean.

“That’s about right to move cargo in and out,” adds Martyn, “It could take on the roll, or help facilitate the roll, of an inland port in Arizona.”

The proximity to metropolitan areas, such as Phoenix, Tucson and more importantly California, is also a huge advantage of having the switching yard at Red Rock. “That’s the biggest reason why it was chosen,” added Martyn.

Union Pacific Railroad currently covers 23 states across the western two-thirds of the U. S., with 43,500 employees, 1,269 of which reside in Arizona.

The rails of Union Pacific first reached Yuma in the year 1878. From there, the railroad company has laid 642 miles worth of track in Arizona.

According to Union Pacific, the route between Los Angeles and El Paso carries 20 percent of the railroad’s traffic, putting the proposed facility at Red Rock in the heart of the transportation of the necessary construction materials.

Union Pacific Railroads primarily carry construction materials necessary for a region’s growth, including lumber, plywood, steel and cement.

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