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> New UP Intermodal Yard
tomfassett
post Jun 4 2012, 08:40 PM
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There have been numerous reports that the UP was building a new intermodal yard near Picacho Peak. I won't go into all the, "The trains will ruin the environment, kill the children and scare the ostriches" hype bandied about by certain members of the press ( tongue.gif ) but most reports I saw said the yard would be between Picacho Peak and Red Rock. This is also what the citizen's group fighting the yard claimed. After a little railfanning last Friday I think it is going in further west.

While following the old highway between Red Rock and Casa Grande I noticed that the entire town of Picacho north of the freeway has been bulldozed (or was being bulldozed) and there were an awful lot of railroad contractors running around. Even the "newer" buildings (like the Post Office) are gone. I was shocked. I saw a couple loading up their truck with what was left in their old mobile home and asked them what was going on. The guy just said that "the Arizona Department of Transportation bought all the land and was kicking everyone out." There were signs everywhere that said "Arizona Department of Transportation land - No Tresspassing." Why would ADOT be involved with land that far from the freeway and next to the railroad mainline? If I had my "druthers" about me I would say that the intermodal yard is going there now. The land around Red Rock and near Picacho Peak State Park got expensive when they built all those housing tracks and they may have moved the location for the yard (if that was the intended location--I never saw anything concrete on an exact location--I saw three different places mentioned in newspaper articles). Another issue was the blocking of the natural washes with all the new construction. A couple years ago they had a series of flash floods that closed the highways due to the fact that all the water was being channeled into the few remaining washes. I remember reading that the state put the brakes on a number of housing developments in Red Rock to remedy the situation.
It would make more sense to put the intermodal yard at Picacho as that is not only where the Phoenix branch meets the mainline but there is a large siding complex, an existing Y and more extensive freeway access. It is also closer to the Interstate interchange (I-10 to I-8) and closer to Phoenix for the trucks. It also gives the trucks a direct shot North to Coolidge, Florence, Chandler and Mesa on the Coolidge highway. The RR is also doing some major work north (and in the middle of) of the Y.

Here are a few pictures I snapped while passing through:

This is the East end of town where the old gas station and motel stood.





This is where the bar and store stood.






This is what is left of a house and an old "flea market."







This is a panorama of the north side of the old highway through town. The post office stood where that cactus is. In the past it was almost impossible to get close to the tracks because of all the old buildings (like the apartments) and the fences around them. Now, the only thing keeping one from getting close to the tracks are the "no tresspassing" signs--and the Highway Patrol officers posted at each end of town...






If this is indeed where the intermodal yard is going, I'll bet the old highway is going away as well (known as Camino Adelante through town). While following the railroad on the old highway from Marana to Casa Grande I'll bet railfans will eventually have to jump on the Freeway to get past this area in the future.

R.I.P., Picacho... sad.gif

Tom F
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rhpd42002
post Jun 5 2012, 06:41 PM
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WOW!! ADOT bought the whole town and is tearing (has torn) it down!? That's quite a shocker!! ohmy.gif
If it is going to be the intermodal yard, there's no doubt that it'll be hard to get near the tracks, unless you get permission from the intermodal yard folks.

Interesting and neat set of pics, Tom.



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tomfassett
post Jun 5 2012, 08:34 PM
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Actually, it's a really small town... wink.gif It was cut in half when the interstate went through and there is still a little bit of town south of the freeway (and a school and agriculture complex north of the railroad). I haven't been able to ascertain if the post office was moved to the other side of the freeway or if (like so many other small towns in the area) one of the "larger" next door towns annexed them. This is what happened to Toltec and Claypool (to name a couple of other former railroad towns). Picacho is about 1 mile outside the eastern limits of Eloy and most of their emergency services (like fire and ambulance) came from there. The "town" police is the county sheriff. I'm hoping to get back down there to see how things are progressing and hopefully find a RR employee who will answer a question or two with something other than, "Get out'a here..." That's the answer I got last time... dry.gif

Here is a link to a satelite view on Google. Everything between the interstate and the railroad is gone from where they come close together to the east to the SR87 bridge over the railroad. The top half of the Y on the left is where the Phoenix branch meets the mainline (the Sunset Route).
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=picacho+AZ&a...mp;t=h&z=15



Tom F
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rhpd42002
post Jun 9 2012, 07:28 PM
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Tom, several small Towns here get their law enforcement services from the Sheriff's Office and most have a VFD for fire protection. In the 19+ years i've worked here, 2 incorporated Towns did away with their PD's and now contract with the Sheriff's office. 1 Town started a PD, but contracted with the Sheriff's Office when the only officer passed away and 1 other Town has never had a PD, nor does it contract with the Sheriff's Office. This County has 10 incorporated Towns, none over 4,000 in population. The County has 8 EMS stations.
As far as grumpy RR employees, I'd try again if I was you. Some are quite talkative and helpful. biggrin.gif

Keep us posted as it develops, if you can.


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bkw
post Jun 9 2012, 09:43 PM
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QUOTE (rhpd42002 @ Jun 10 2012, 03:28 AM) *
As far as grumpy RR employees, I'd try again if I was you. biggrin.gif


We can be sometimes.........
Especially on a bad day, which is generally one of those days when small incidents keep cropping up, usually due to someone else's incompetence,
rather than a major incident!!


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tomfassett
post Jun 10 2012, 02:02 PM
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Here, I chalk up the grumpiness to working outside when it is 105+ degrees... wacko.gif

Tom F
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rhpd42002
post Jun 10 2012, 02:16 PM
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QUOTE (tomfassett @ Jun 10 2012, 05:02 PM) *
Here, I chalk up the grumpiness to working outside when it is 105+ degrees... wacko.gif

Tom F


105+ degrees and grumpy!? Nahh!! Couldn't be! laugh.gif

Sounds like a bribe, in the form of some ice cold drinks or lemonade might get you a lonnnngg way, Tom. wink.gif


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tomfassett
post Jun 11 2012, 08:45 AM
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Cold drinks got me many an invitation to enter the cab back in the 80s. I got a couple of cab rides that way as well... wink.gif The crews used to constantly complain that whoever was supposed to stock their cab with ice and water didn't bother to do their job. That's brutal on a local in the middle of the summer (with no A/C). They would complain to the dispatcher but nobody seemed to care... dry.gif

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rhpd42002
post Jun 11 2012, 02:38 PM
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QUOTE (tomfassett @ Jun 11 2012, 11:45 AM) *
The crews used to constantly complain that whoever was supposed to stock their cab with ice and water didn't bother to do their job. That's brutal on a local in the middle of the summer (with no A/C). They would complain to the dispatcher but nobody seemed to care... dry.gif

Tom F


Now that doesn't surprise me one bit!! wacko.gif



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UPMW2000
post Jun 12 2012, 05:13 PM
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This is one of the reasons I hate my employer, I know you said that ADOT bought the land, but I'm sure that was an angle by UP to avoid the PR nightmare of imminent domain, they got a ton of bad press when they exercised imminent domain on a landowner near Rochelle when they wanted to build Global 3, you can rest assured that if the UP approaches you about your property and you dont want to sell they will pull whatever trick they can to take it from you, I'm certain they partnered with ADOT in this case to attain what they wanted I'm of the position that if I own it and do not wish to part with it then so be it, the scary thing to me is a couple years ago someone here in Illinois, senator, congressman whatever, proposed the use of imminent domain to aquire farmland for urban developement as if we dont have enough crackerbox subdivisions and strip malls, anyhow there seemed to be alot of open space around that area on the map, they absolutely had to have the townsite???


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tomfassett
post Jun 12 2012, 08:17 PM
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The use of eminent domain got out of hand in Arizona recently as well. After a few outrageous cases where there was little justification for claims that it "contributed to the public good" (such as the expansion of a private golf course or custom built mansions) the media went on a feeding frenzy and the legislature was forced to step in and curtail its use by municipalities.
In ADOT's defense, I have no idea how the land was acquired. The people I talked to were renters and had no idea how the land owner came out in the transaction. Plus, most of the land ADOT acquired was derelict, at best, with abandoned buildings and run down properties (some were downright dangerous fire traps). In the past few years, a number of these properties had burned down due to lack of maintenance and sub standard wiring. In this instance, I can't see a better place to locate the yard, if this is where the yard is going. I have seen news reports as late as April of 2012 that say the yard has been put on hold due to opposition from the state (and the governor's office).
As I have posted before, there is a lot of misinformation circulating about the impact of the railroad on Picacho Peak state park. The town of Picacho and Picacho siding is a good 5 miles from Picacho Peak. Plus, the park (which is only a few square miles) is not a "pristine" area as it is surrounded by RV and travel trailer parks (some climbing up the side of the peak itself), truck stops and an ostrich farm/tourist trap which has a 4 wheel drive "bus" that gives tours in the surrounding desert area. The park itself is broken up in blocks interspersed with private land which is how the trailer parks have been able to build on some of the more scenic plots. Claims were made that the trains would scare the ostriches and that is why the railroad should curtail operations in the area. The railroad has been there for over 130 years--the ostriches and RV/travel trailer parks are a recent addition and have a greater environmental impact on the desert than the railroad... wink.gif I was in the local Dairy Queen at one of the travel centers a while back listening to a couple from New York who were winter visitors in one of the trailer parks ranting about how they should remove the railroad because it bothered them in their RV while they were trying to watch TV. There are hundreds and hundreds of RV parks in Arizona--if you don't want to hear trains, DON'T pick one next to a railroad then demand that the railroad be moved for your convenience... dry.gif Even people who don't live here have the "NIMBY" syndrome when it comes to telling those of us who do live here (and were born here) what to do... wink.gif
Personally, if I lived there I would be happy for the revenue from the taxes paid by the jobs the yard will create (local purchasing, services like restaurants and convenience stores, etc). Counties in Arizona seem to think the answer to all their revenue woes is to keep raising property taxes to the point that few can afford to own a house. Mine have gone up 500% since I bought my house. I'd rather bring back some industry rather than have mile after mile after mile of tract housing and no economic tax base.

I'll keep trying to find out more information on what is going on in Picacho and hope to get down there again soon to see what is unfolding.

Tom F
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