(Odessa, Texas – July 11, 2011)
In a railroad versus local business battle, Union Pacific Railroad was given unanimous permission by the Ector County, TX County Commissioners Monday to close the Cargo Road crossing of UPRR tracks, an intersection UP called “the most dangerous railroad crossing in the state.”
County Judge Susan Redford claimed that statistics show that since January of this year, 23 accidents have occurred at the crossing. Where each entity obtained its statistics is an unknown source, as the Federal Railroad Administration’s national grade crossing inventory does not even list a “Cargo Road” in its data base for Odessa or Ector County.
Local industrial CEO Jim Reese of Penatek Industries, which produces centrifugal castings and relies heavily on the grade crossing for both customer and employee access, was dismayed by the Commissioner’s vote, immediately after which UPRR forces erected huge concrete barricades on each side of the crossing.
Reese is concerned that the resultant increased traffic flow will just be re-routed over another crossing, ultimately taking liability off Union Pacific and putting it on Ector County instead. “It’ll hurt our business because of the lack of access,” he stated.
The alternative to closing crossings with high traffic is to seperate the roadway from the railroad tracks by building an overpass or underpass for vehicle traffic. However, the cost of seperating a crossing is high and often the Railroad’s burden. Railroad companies would rather close the crossing and disregard the convenience of local businesses instead of paying for a badly needed grade separation.