By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services/Arizona Daily Star
If the state sells up to 1,900 acres for a massive rail yard – 74 tracks at its widest – at Picacho, it will hurt the value of thousands of acres of state trust lands to the east, a report released Monday shows.
Land Commissioner Maria Baier said such a major industrial development pretty much condemns that property to what she called “nuisance uses” like industrial.
Which creates additional problems, consultant Aaron Gruen pointed out, because there is already a glut of industrial property in the area. He figured it would take 17 years to use what’s available now, even at twice the current growth rate.
Gruen said that, in turn, undermines claims by the railroad that the switching yard will generate close to 300 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs.
He estimated that, at best, allowing Union Pacific to build the yard might generate fewer than 100 direct jobs, and he said the claim of indirect jobs in warehouses and other industrial uses is based on flawed assumptions.
Even with all that, Baier indicated Monday she’s willing to sell property for a six-mile-long freight yard in the shadow of Picacho Peak if she gets some answers, and if the state gets enough money to compensate for some of the problems it will create.
Planned rail yard near Picacho Peak gains steam with state contingent OK on land sale/Rose Law Group Reporter