Union Pacific looking to expand rail line through Stafford

October 11, 2011 4:11:05 PM PDT
A plan for commuter rail to Stafford may be fading, and it all has to do with expanding other rail services in the area. Union Pacific is looking to add another line. It would go through Stafford, southwest of Houston, but the mayor there worries it could have dire consequences for a commuter line.

Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella says he is "critically concerned" about the expansion of the rail line through the city. He's heard it's not only the tracks that might be doubled.

Union Pacific has plans to double the rail line adjacent to Highway 90A through Stafford, something not all residents are thrilled about.

"I really don't like the idea of that too much, more train traffic," resident Alex Avalos said.

Scarcella says he's personally heard a Union Pacific official say they intend to double the rail traffic as well.

"There are numerous ramifications to this, all of which are negative," Scarcella said.

Scarcella says he's heard there may one day be 60, 70 or more trains per day passing through Stafford, which is contrary to what Union Pacific Spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza says.

"At this point, we do not have any plans to grow the traffic. We're not building this line for additional business," Espinoza said.

Espinoza says it's a $46 million project, adding a second track along what exists between Post Oak and Sugar Land, including the stretch through Stafford. Private dollars, she notes, are used to make train traffic more efficient.

"Not only will it benefit our operations, but it will also benefit the community," Espinoza said.

Scarcella says any increase in freight train traffic would be detrimental, increasing noise pollution and traffic congestion in Stafford --possibly even delaying emergency crews. He didn't think twice about blasting what he says is Union Pacific's "spin" on the story.

"They're disingenuous in that they don't mention the fact that their whole purpose is to double or triple the amount of train traffic they have on 90A," Scarcella said.

There's a big meeting in part about this at 5:30pm Thursday at the Stafford Center at 10505 Cash Rd.


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