Crews have begun dirt work on an $11 million, 10-mile Union Pacific railroad project that will connect with a spur into the heart of the Leeco Business Park.
The line will parallel Business 20 beginning from Cargo Road in Odessa to West Loop 250 in Midland and will carry sand, pipe and crude oil to and from drilling sites to businesses.
“We started building the segment next to the line that exists now to accommodate growth,” Union Pacific Spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza-Williams said. “Part of the line will be near the Leeco properties, and businesses there will build rail spurs to the industrial lead.”
An industrial lead is a section of track that connects to a main line.
The Leeco Business Park, which opened in 2008, is located east of Faudree Road between Interstate 20 and Business 20 and doubled in size around two months ago from an 800-acre area to a 1,600-acre area.
Larry Lee, owner of Leeco Properties, said the prospect of a spur arose after businesses told him they needed rail access. Lee said 30 businesses are committed to the recently expanded plot.
“Since the park was fronting along the railroad, we inquired about a spur and Union Pacific was interested,” Lee said. “Rail access is very valuable and has been for several years. In West Texas, we’re in short supply of it.”
Lee said the project is expected to be finished in September.
Espinoza-Williams said similar railroad project activity has increased in the Eagle Ford Shale area, near San Antonio and Laredo.
The Gardendale Railroad in La Salle County and between Laredo and San Antonio was basically not in service, but has recently expanded to support new operations, Espinoza-Williams said.
"When you think about the material in those amounts, it’s a lot more efficient to move it on a train rather than on a truck,” Espinoza-Williams said. “For the community, it means fewer trucks on the road, and really, it’s a win-win for everyone."
One rail car is capable of holding 70 to 100 tons of sand.
“Some of these shippers have the need to move significant amounts of material into the area and we’re in the perfect position to do that because our infrastructure is already set up,” Espinoza-Williams said.
Additionally, Lee said there are plans to extend Faudree Road south from where it ends at Business 20 to connect with Interstate 20.
“I guess you could say I had vision, but you couldn’t say the same when I bought that land,” Lee said. “I had no Plan B. I knew we could sell the land, but I didn’t know how well. It (the park) has been exceeding our expectations.”