By Rosalee Getterman
Union Pacific Railroad is planning to invest $200 million to build a railroad classification yard on about 1000 acres of land between Hearne and Mumford.
The yard would consist of about 60 tracks that would be used to separate incoming cars and sort them so they could be sent to their destinations.
A spokeswoman for the railroad company, Raquel Espinoza, said that the location is appealing because several main rail lines run through the area that would give the rail yard access to Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and East Texas.
Hearne Mayor Ruben Gomez released a statement in which he indicated that the project, which would affect about 20 local landowners, would add several hundred high-paying permanent jobs to the area. He said upwards of 1,000 temporary workers would take up residence for a year to prepare the site and lay the tracks.
Despite assurances from Union Pacific that the rail yard would boost the local economy, several local landowners and citizens expressed their concerns about the company’s proposal during a meeting Wednesday at the Mumford ISD building.
Union Pacific is reportedly involved in discussions with local landowners, but many of the landowners at the meeting indicated that they had not been contacted by the company.
The main question at the meeting seemed to be about what legal rights landowners have to fight to keep their land.
Patrick Reznik, a lawyer with Braun and Gresham out of Dripping Springs, was at the meeting to address such questions. He said that Union Pacific is likely to say that it has the power of eminent domain, but that in order to do so it must prove that the public will benefit from the acquisition.
Espinoza said that Union Pacific looks at appraisals of the land to try to offer the landowners a fair value.
Appraisals can be subjective, according to Reznik, who suggested that the landowners have an appraisal performed by someone who is not influenced by the railroad company.