3rd in a three-part series
By Karen Daniels
In conclusion to this three-part series on the second track being added, effecting traffic flow for the citizens of Missouri City, Stafford, and Sugar Land, we spoke to the source, Union Pacific, to go on record with the future of the 90A Corridor. Joe Adams, Vice-President with Public Affairs for the Southern Region said, “The expected increase in trains will be only 3 to 4% on an annual basis once the second track is added.”
This number, however, only includes UPRR trains. It does not include other carriers who will rent use of the track, but Mr. Adams maintains that the increase will not increase much higher. So if the expected increase is still predicted to be low, why go to the trouble and expense? Joe explains, “Eliminating stops and starts, allowing trains to pass and maintain their speeds of 50mph, is more efficient for UPRR and for vehicle traffic.”
Furthermore, it is the opinion of Union Pacific that the widening of the Panama Canal will decrease traffic along the 90A rail. At this time, most cargo ships dock at the Port of Los Angeles and travel west by train, moving through our Cities to reach Houston. Some ships will bypass Los Angeles, journey the Canal and continue to the Port of Houston. This cargo will not need to travel through our neighborhood, according to UPRR, because from this point they will travel either north to St. Louis and Chicago or east to New Orleans. However, if cargo arriving in our Ports should need to go to El Paso, our lines will be used.
As far as creating quiet zones, Mr. Adams said that will be up to local jurisdictions as to how they handle their intersections. The RFA has set regulations that one of these three options must be in place: 1) Add a bridge/underpass, which is the most expensive option, but provides less interruption for cars; 2) Install quad gates, which are currently used at the Eldridge intersection; or 3) Place a sixty foot barrier down the middle of the road, length-wise, separating the roads.
UPRR confirms that the commuter train was not practical and will not be allowed on the tracks and has informed officials of this decision for the past four to five years. The dates of construction have changed slightly. Phase 1 – West Junction to Missouri City – which consists of 3.8 miles, will begin this summer. Phase 2 – Missouri City to Sugar Land – which consists of 6.1 miles, Mr. Adams predicts, will not start until 2013.
We spoke to Mayor Scarcella a final time for his rebuttal since it was his original statements that launched this series. He is standing by his prediction that in five years the rail traffic will increase to sixty cars per day. And lastly, he had this to say on the topic of the quiet zones. “When they (UPRR) say quiet zones are ‘up to the local jurisdiction’ what they are really saying is that it is up to us to pay for them. Union Pacific makes the noise, but we get to deal with the problem.”