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Top 10 Stories of 2009: No 9: Bypass still in the works for Victoria's Kansas City Southern rail line

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Dec. 25, 2009 at 6:25 a.m.
Updated Dec. 29, 2009 at 6:29 a.m.


Kansas City Southern: a timeline

March 2008: Construction begins on the project

June 2009: Construction is complete on the new rail line. Six to eight trains are slated to pass through Victoria daily

June 17, 2009: KCS began operations on the newly-constructed rail section between Victoria and Rosenberg

June 29, 2009: Trains upped their speed to 25 mph. They began running at 10 mph to allow residents a chance to get used to the new tracks.

July 2009: Trains reached their maximum traveling speed, 49 mph.

July 17, 2009: Officials from Victoria, Edna, El Campo and Wharton boarded the Kansas City Southern Belle passenger train for a first-hand glimpse of the rail line.

Construction is complete on the Kansas City Southern rail line and trains run through Victoria daily, but there's still more to go.

The next step is a bypass to offset rail traffic through major arteries.

It's a work in progress and both KCS and the Texas Department of Transportation are working toward a resolution, Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi said.

A bypass is important, Mayor Will Armstrong agreed, but added that it's unclear where the project timeline sits.

"We were told they would do El Campo first," he said. "These things are all completely and totally out of our control. There's nothing the city does or can do to influence the railroad."

Representatives from the railroad said they would do the engineering and investigate where the bypass should go but, thus far, not much has happened, said Randy Bena, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation.

"The plan was, when we got to the point where right-of-way would be purchased, it was going to be a joint venture between the railroad, TxDOT and, possibly, the city," he said. "But, since the railroad was close to completion, we haven't heard a word about the bypass."

The railroad laid wooden ties in Telferner and told TxDot they were there temporarily until bypasses went in, Bena said. The permanent ties are made of concrete.

"I think they did that around El Campo, too," Bena said. "I just don't think it's progressed."

A project fact sheet Kansas City Southern e-mailed to the Advocate did not include information regarding the proposed bypasses.

The New York, Texas and Mexican Railway Company originally constructed the line that runs from Victoria to Rosenberg in 1882, according to the company fact sheet. Construction on the latest project began in March 2008 and finished in June 2009.

It's too soon to determine what type of impact the line has had on the area, but Pozzi said he's happy to have it operating in the Crossroads.

"Certainly, from everything I've seen, they've been a good community partner," he said.

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