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Texas-Pacifico Railroad begins shipping pipe

April 30th, 2015 under Top Stories

By SASHA von OLDERSHAUSEN

FAR WEST TEXAS – It’s like a high school math question: If a pipeline company needs to haul 143 miles of 42-inch pipe from Fort Stockton to nearby Belding, and there are two mile-long trains that carry the pipe twice a week at 10 to 20 miles per hour, how many weeks will it take to transport all the pipe? About a year, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Texas-Pacifico Railroad line has already begun its shipment of the gas transmission pipe sections that will be used to construct the Trans Pecos Pipeline – a project that many area residents still hope can be stopped.

But Energy Transfer Partners – one of the energy companies in the consortium of companies tasked with developing the pipeline – and Pumpco Inc., the construction company that will be building it, are moving full steam ahead – literally.

The first rail cars were spotted in Fort Stockton on Monday, according to Elizabeth Grindstaff, the Texas-Pacifico Railroad’s vice president of sales and marketing.

The pipe is being stored at and distributed from an existing staging yard along I-10 in Fort Stockton. From there, the railroad will carry the pipe through Fort Stockton to Belding, where the pipe will then be unloaded and trucked to where needed. Pumpco is making an equipment storage yard in Alpine near the old Coca Cola bottling plant off Sunny Glen Road.

The trains are comprised of at least 100 cars that will carry the pipe secured to flatbeds, and will run about a mile in length.

This is the first time in at least five years that the rail line west of Fort Stockton has been used for anything more than storage, said Grindstaff.

Gene Powell, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Odessa district, said this could pose a minor inconvenience for motorists, many of whom have likely not seen a train of this size running through the area in years. Additionally, the train will be running between 10 and 20 miles per hour, which means the wait time for a train to pass could amount to several minutes.

Due to concerns about motorists, TxDOT issued a press release to notify the public of the railroad developments.

“I wanted to raise awareness for motorists,” Powell said. “Don’t try to beat it, don’t try to get to an intersection ahead of a train. Stay out of its way.”

However, Powell also contended that there is no cause for concern.

“Is there a minor threat?” Powell said. “Any time you have a railroad coming through, you have a minor threat.”

He added, “But there is no reason to be worried about the load. It’s not any different from any other railroad cars. They’re not carrying any hazardous material.”

Grindstaff added that the increased use of the railroad line would pave the way for future rehabilitation projects on the railroad line, including a complete rehabilitation of the line to Presidio, which will occur in conjunction with the expansion of the Presidio international bridge and the rebuilding of the railroad bridge between Presidio and Ojinaga.

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