Monthly Archives: March 2008

Rail Corridor Make’s More Sense

Pete Symke of Alpine writes:

 

Why a rail corridor based on the South Orient right of way

makes more sense than the La Entrada Al Pacifico truck route.

 

            TXDOT’s statewide goals for transportation improvements include the following:

Reducing congestion; Enhancing safety; Expanding economic opportunity; Improving air quality; and Increasing the value of the transportation asset.

            A rail corridor based on the South Orient right of way would do all of these things, while the La Entrada Al Pacifico truck route meets none of these requirements.

 

            The La Entrada Al Pacifico trade corridor is an ethical sinkhole.

            Its authorizing legislation, HB 2115, literally suspended the Texas Constitution in order to keep the bill off of the floors of both the Texas House and Senate, effectively precluding any legislative debate.

            The corridor’s path was chosen by a handful of politically connected Midland, TX residents, the Midland Odessa Transportation Alliance (MOTRAN) without any formal public input.

            HB 2115 was sponsored by Midland representative Tom Craddick while his wife Nadine was serving on the board of MOTRAN.

            La Entrada Al Pacifico is the only one of 80 High Priority Federal Trade Corridors to include “any portion of a highway in a corridor on 2 miles of either side of the center line of the highway.”

 

            A rail corridor based on the current South Orient right of way from Presidio to Dallas would cross 5 established trade routes: the Union Pacific track in Alpine; I-10 in Ft. Stockton; the Ports-to-Plains corridor in San Angelo; the BNSF tracks at San Angelo Junction; and the I-35 corridor in Dallas. (Dallas and Ft. Worth are both developing multi-thousand acre rail-to-truck transfer sites for imported cargo.)

 

            Midland’s unemployment rate is the lowest in Texas. A corridor based on the South Orient will create railroad careers from Presidio to Dallas, as well as freight transfer jobs the length of the line, not to mention ancillary support businesses.

 

            A rail-based import corridor will be inherently more secure than a truck route. Rail shipments will be easier to track than thousands of separate trucks. Rail traffic is also much more highly regulated and inspected for both safety and security than truck traffic.

 

            As fuel costs rise, so do the prices of goods brought into the Big Bend by road. Bringing in goods by rail for local distribution will stabilize costs and create jobs regionally.

            Passenger rail service will also support the Big Bend’s tourism economy into the foreseeable future, no matter the cost of gas.

 

            A truck based trade corridor through the Big Bend will require extensive and ongoing road maintenance and will degrade visitors’ experiences in the area, eventually hurting the region’s economy and spoiling the region’s unique ecosystems.

 

            A rail transportation corridor is the most environmentally sound method of developing the Presidio/Ojinaga border crossing, creating jobs across West Texas, and respecting the unique ecosystems and small town culture of the Big Bend.

 

            A rail corridor would reduce particulate matter and light sources in the Big Bend, which would be  vital to the proper functioning of the McDonald Observatory, a world-class astronomical research institute in Ft. Davis, TX.

 

            State of the art rail corridors are recognized worldwide as the transportation means of the future.

 

Texas Department of Transportation La Entrada Al Pacifico Study Coordinator

Peggy Thurin, P.E. tpp_txdot-leap@dot.state.tx.us (Note underscore after “tpp”) or 1-800/517-4652

LEAP Feasibility Study Consulting Engineer

Brian Swindell, P.E. HDR Engineering, Inc. brian.swindell@hdrinc.com  

 

U.S. Senators

Kay Bailey Hutchison U. S. Senate; Washington, D.C. 20510 http://hutchison.senate.gov/contact.html

John Cornyn 512 Hart SOB; Washington, D.C. 20510 http://cornyn.senate.gov/public/

U.S. Representative Dist. 23

Ciro D. Rodriguez 2458 Rayburn House OB; Washington, D.C. 20515 http://www.rodriguez.house.gov/

Texas State Senate Dist. 19

Carlos Uresti 2530 SW Military Dr Ste103; San AntonioTX 78224 http://www.uresti.senate.state.tx.us/

Texas House of Reps. Dist. 74

Pete Gallego P.O. Box 777; Alpine, TX 79831 http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist74/gallego.htm

To find your own state and federal representatives’ contact info, enter your address at:

http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members.htm#FYI