San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 21st, 2009
Major railroad rebuild to close local road crossings

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

A major Union Pacific railroad reconstruction project is expected to close a succession of at-grade road crossings starting Monday, Oct. 26, with Centerpoint Road in south San Marcos.

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Hays County officials expect Posey Road and McCarty Lane to be closed. Weather or other factors could change the maintenance schedule.

“Drivers should expect delays and should consider finding alternate routes to avoid inconvenience,” said Tim Vande Vorde, the county’s Road Operations manager.

The work is part of a $7 million project replacing about 40 miles of track from north San Antonio to San Marcos, said Raquel Espinoza Williams, a Union Pacific spokesperson. Advancing up the Union Pacific line from the south, the rail replacement project will affect other crossings in San Marcos in coming weeks, Williams said.

When the project is completed, UP will have replaced 52,000 railroad ties, added 35,000 tons of rock ballast and “renewed” 32 at-grade road crossings, Williams said.

San Marcos has had its share of derailments in recent memory, the most serious of which in February 2005 forced the evacuation of more than 200 residents of the Victory Gardens neighborhood when a 109-car train bound for San Antonio came off the track. Four overturned cars contained sulfuric acid and a fifth contained xyelene, a cleaning solvent, although they were mostly empty and none leaked.

Bissected by both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks, San Marcos streets cross tracks 69 times, 67 of which are at-grade crossings. San Marcos’ 2002 transportation master plan estimated drivers in the city collectively spend 51.4 hours a day waiting for passing trains.

Since then, the city and state completed the first railroad overpass in San Marcos at Wonder World Drive, which opened in December 2006. A second overpass opened the next year on an extension of Yarrington Road to feed traffic to the Blanco Vista subdivision in far north San Marcos.

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