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Friday, October 02, 2009

East Texas towns study adding railroad spurs

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Railroads might have their roots in the 19th century, but they still are important to the area economy, say transportation and economic development officials, The Longview News-Journal reports. Two area groups, meanwhile, are working to provide more rail options.

"Railroads have had a very positive impact on the East Texas economy for more than 100 years and continue to be a very important factor in attracting businesses to various communities," said John Hedrick, transportation director for the East Texas Council of Governments.

Railroads also have a positive environmental impact, he said.

"Using railroads for cargo transport is a major component in lowering congestion on highways," Hedrick said. "That helps everybody because it puts less stress on the infrastructure of our roads and bridges."

Kilgore wants a spur built to Synergy Park, the new industrial park on U.S. 259, said Amanda Nobles, Kilgore Economic Development Corp. director. Henderson is in negotiations to buy a rail line Union Pacific has abandoned, which runs between Henderson and Overton, said Rusk County Rural Rail District President John Cloutier.

"While the ability to ship freight by truck is an essential element of any business, adding a rail option increases the flexibility and desirability of a business location," Nobles said.

Synergy Park does not have a direct rail line, she said. Several businesses have indicated a rail component would increase their likelihood of relocating to Kilgore.

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