By Alan M. Petrillo
Special to ExplorerNews.com
A report by an economic consultant commissioned by the Arizona State Land Department says that state trust land adjacent to acreage being considered for sale to Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for a switching yard would be affected by the sale and that infrastructure improvements to adjacent land should be paid for by the purchaser of the rail yard property.
Produced by Gruen Gruen + Associates, the report was designed to give the State Land Department a review of existing reports that had been conducted by Union Pacific in its effort to purchase 900 acres of state trust land for the rail yard.
The State Land Department manages a total of 1.2 million acres of trust land in Pinal County, but the other state trust parcels in the vicinity of the proposed land for sale to Union Pacific are comprised of several sections of land. A section of land 640 acres.
The report noted that because the sale of the land for the Classification Yard (switching yard) would generate negative impacts, the department should consider establishing an “impact zone within which feasible mitigation measures should be considered.” It identified an impact zone around the 900 acres as “an area within one-half to a mile of the proposed Classification Yard that will experience negative environmental, property value and other impacts.”
The switching yard would be located northeast of Union Pacific’s current right of way and west of W. Kodial Road, across from the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch in Picacho. The property being sought is approximately 6 miles long and about a mile wide. It could accommodate up a yard up to 74 tracks wide.
UP has stated it needs a site that is longer instead of wider because the railroad needs room for locomotives and trains to decelerate and stop safely, and then accelerate to get back onto the main line.