Planned rail yard near Picacho Peak gains steam with state contingent OK on land sale

By Sean Holstege

The Arizona Republic

The Arizona State Land Department cleared the path Monday for a land sale that could bring a massive rail yard to farmland near Picacho Peak.

Union Pacific Corp. is seeking to build a yard 6 miles long and 74 tracks wide, the biggest yard between Los Angeles and Texas. The plan stalled because of the bad economy but in recent months the freight giant renewed its interest and state and county politicians have gotten behind the proposal.

The Land Department owns the 950-acre laser-leveled farm, just east and south of historic and scenic Picacho Peak State Park. On Monday the department released twin studies that concluded that the sale could proceed, but only if the development interests of surrounding state-owned land could be protected.

An economic analysis concluded selling the land in an auction “may be prudent” if certain conditions are met. Those include having the successful bidder cover the costs of impacts created by building a project.


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September 2012