Monday, October 24, 2016

Downtown Arena Part 3

The railyard is a bad location for the stadium because it screws the valley.

The stadium doesn't have to be downtown. The ordinance language says it does, but not the ballot language. An ordinance can be changed, therefore council could decide that downtown isn't the best place for it.

Frankly, it is the best place for it.

Now back to the railyard.

Union Pacific is willing to sell the railyard spot to the city but there is some major horse trading involved. In traditional form, it's a deal that would screw the valley. And that's not hyperbole, it would be a major screw job to the valley.

Thankfully the two valley reps drew a line in the said and protected their constituents.

At stake is a master plan that Union Pacific has for closure of 31 crossings. That is their ultimate goal in order to maximize the use of their fancy new Santa Teresa railyard facility. UP is planning to double, perhaps triple the train traffic in and out of the hub. UP is sort of treated like a political subdivision in that they have right-of-way and eminent domain powers as well. I know, that seems weird but it's left over from the days when rail was king.

There was some dealing done for right-of-way and other stuff between the City and UP for the ballpark. UP's trains have to slow up when they approach a crossing. They are also responsible for the maintenance of the crossings. As you might guess, overhead eats into profit. Slowing down impacts their efficiency. Overhead impacts their profitability. So they have a really big stick to negotiate with over that parcel of land.

If you take a look at where the tracks are located, where would the lion's share of the crossings that UP wants closed?

The Valley.

Closures would mean that the trains don't have to slow down as much and they don't have the maintenance costs, but the valley gets screwed in the process. Closures of railroad crossings mean that the valley would literally be cut off from the rest of town in certain areas.

It's not just added commute time, more gas, and more time to get around, but it is also a major problem for first responders. The police station in the valley is north of the tracks. There is one hospital south of the freeway and none south of the tracks.

UP told multiple officials at the city that crossings would be on the table for a stadium land sale bid.

The railyard location would negatively impact thousands of El Pasoans. Interestingly one of the places that is most coveted by UP for closure is the crossing at Zaragoza. I can't begin to tell you what a major problem that would be to life and business in that area.

So when you take a look at the bigger picture, the reason for the unanimous vote for the current location comes into focus and makes complete sense.

Council collectively made the right choice for the city, and it's been a while since I said that and meant it.

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