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Ground Broken on Union Pacific's Local Rail Yard

The historic construction of the first U.S. rail classification yard of its kind this century is being celebrated by local leaders, including the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation.
 
Ground was ceremonially broken on Union Pacific Railroad’s Brazos Yard near Hearne and Mumford in Robertson County on Wednesday, June 20. Construction officially began in January and is due to be completed in 2020. UP notes it is the first classification yard to be built by a new generation of railroad engineers, some of whom are Texas A&M graduates.
 
In UP’s 155-year history, no capital investment in a single facility has been larger than what will take place in the Brazos Valley. When the $550 million, 1,800-acre yard is completed, up to 1,300 rail cars can be switched into various trains and onto various lines each day. Seven UP lines converge at the Brazos Yard site.
 
The new yard will add to the rich railroad legacy of Hearne as “The Crossroads of Texas.” Local companies will have a site close by where goods can be transferred in any direction, and worldwide goods will be brought through the region.
 
“Obviously, the local component is key, but there really is a national and international component because you can ship things by rail across the country and ultimately across the sea and globally,” said UP Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore. “It’s all going to come through the Brazos Valley to make that happen.”
Approximately 500 construction workers will build the facility. UP will employ about 350 workers full-time at the yard when it is fully operational, with an estimated 1,200 indirect jobs created and a quarter-of-a-billion dollars contributed to the local and state economies annually.
 
“The only thing that UP said when they got here was, ‘What can we do to help your community,’” said Robertson County Judge Charles Ellison. “Union Pacific and the Brazos Yard are a significant milestone for Robertson County and the State of Texas, and we appreciate you coming here.”
 
BVEDC board members, staff and Invest Brazos Valley representatives were in attendance for the ground-breaking, celebrating the significant milestone for the region’s business community. BVEDC President/CEO Matt Prochaska notes the Texas Freight Advisory Committee predicts that rail freight growth will double by 2040.
 
“Along with the $550 million Brazos Yard, Union Pacific has invested $5 billion in the Lone Star State,” Prochaska said. “Why? Because UP knows Texas is the best place to do business, and the Brazos Valley is the best of the best.”
 
Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent greetings to the gathering and a proclamation celebrating the event.
 
“Since 1862, the Union Pacific Railroad has been one of America’s leading transportation companies, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the country by rail, providing a critical link in the global supply chain,” the governor wrote. “I commend Union Pacific for bringing the largest facility capital investment in company history to Robertson County and for its contributions to the Hearne community.”
 
In addition to the regional economic impact, the Brazos Yard will provide an opportunity for Texas A&M System agencies like the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and UP to work together.
 
“We can jointly invent and test new technologies such as remote sensors and other high-tech solutions,” said TTI Director Gregory Winfree. “We can improve UP and the freight rail industry while also training some of our students, the future rail industry workforce.”
 
Winfree also noted that once TTI’s new home at the neighboring Texas A&M RELLIS Campus is complete, TTI and UP will be able to work with Blinn College and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service on workforce development opportunities.