Local News

Aug 20, 2013 7:30 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Concerns Over Increased Train Traffic in Odem

ODEM - It's no secret in Odem, when the train is coming through, you just have to sit and wait to cross the tracks.

It crosses right over Highway 77, and it's something people just have to deal with.

But city and county officials are concerned that the train traffic will get worse in the coming years as the newly renovated Panama Canal drives more port and rail business.

When the train comes through, traffic is backed up for at least five minutes and sometimes closer to a half hour.

And it's not just an inconvenience, there are safety concerns. What if an E.M.S unit or a police officer is delayed too long getting to an emergency?

And what about Highway 77 traffic, zooming along at high speeds and all the sudden having to come to a stop because traffic is backed up out of the city?

So, San Patricio County, Odem, TxDOT, and Union Pacific are talking about speeding up the process. They want to put an extra rail switch in the area.

To do that, an old game room needs to be bought by someone and modified so that the switch can go through that land.

Union Pacific says they won't buy it, or pay for any of the construction at this time.

So, the county or the city would have to foot the $3 million bill, and that's a tall order.

County Judge Terry Simpson says it's tough to find that kind of money.

"Everybody's looking in their little cubby holes here and there, trying to see if there's funding they can come up with to fix the problem," he says.

But where do you get it? Bonds aren't realistic, and it's hard to convince an entire county to pay more taxes just to help one city.

Union Pacific says they'll use the new track if the city builds it, but they won't help pay for it.

They say, at this time, it's just not a priority. They don't move enough freight through there to make a change.

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