Omaha Track Rail Park Approved
- 2019-03-22, 04:27 AM
by Leanna Lehman -- Omaha Track, represented by Lisa Roberts and Jeff Peterson of Omaha Nebraska, appeared before the Churchill County Planning Commission Wednesday, March 13th seeking a special use permit to develop a rail park. Omaha Track is currently sorting and storing railroad ties at 1006 Nevada Street in Hazen and intends to build a rail park with graded track installation, truck scales, scale house, a tie sorting machine, and other related structures. The project began three years ago when Omaha Track purchased the property from the Truckee Carson Irrigation District. The planned rail park will be on 100 acres located just east of the current facility. The purpose of the facility is to sort railroad ties that have come off of existing railroad tracks in an effort to recycle and reuse ties that are still in suitable condition and repurpose those that do not meet track standards. About 50% of the ties are expected to be sold to the landscaping market. Originally the facility was slated to store approximately 150,000 railroad ties. However, Omaha Track estimates the current count to be close 500,000. The Hazen location has been offloading the majority of the ties for the entire west coast, according to Robertson. Until recently, there were not enough tie sorting operations to handle the volume of ties coming off the track, but Omaha Track will now be able to divert some ties to their new Chicago facility, reducing pressure on the Hazen location. Hazen residents neighboring Omaha track expressed concerns related to the current facility as well as the impending new site. Alan Hughes, who owns the Hazen Market building and most nearby property, stated that “the road is not maintained –ever. It’s terrible.” He also wanted to make sure that Omaha Track completes its move to the 100-acre parcel and doesn’t plan to continue operating on the 18 acres where it is currently situated. Julie Scott, another neighboring resident also brought up the road condition, potholes, and excessive dust, stating “If you are going to have that kind of business, something should be done with the road, at least.” Lisa Robertson reported that truck traffic in and out of the facility has been rerouted from Nevada Street to California Street in an effort to reduce road damage in town. Furthermore, Peterson stated, “a road agreement (with Churchill County) was signed this week, which is something we have been waiting on. We want to be good neighbors and will make sure we take care of the road problem.” Peterson said that being from the mid-west, Omaha Track underestimated the dust and dryness in the area. A water truck is on site but hasn't completely remedied the problem. Plans are underway to have a well drilled when construction plans are finalized. “We don’t want to run the chance of drilling then having to re-drill well in another location,” Peterson explained. He made assurances once the well is in, dust remediation will be much more successful. NDOT has requested that a traffic study is completed within the next year to ensure minimal impact on area traffic. Additionally, commission member A.C. White discussed the importance of best practices for environmental protection, suitable irrigation water for Fallon, and the need for a stormwater management facility. Robertson assured the commissioners “those are all part of our normal engineering process.” Commissioner Shane Yates asked Omaha Track when they anticipated moving to the new site, but Peterson couldn’t be specific, stating. “We should have an answer on the final plan within 3-6 months." According to Peterson, Omaha Track has faced many challenges with the project, including difficulties with Union Pacific Railroad. “The people we're dealing with when we started this project are not the people we are dealing with now,” he explained, citing a great deal of turn over in the UP operation as one of the obstacles to getting construction underway on the new facility. Churchill Economic Development executive director, Nathan Strong, stated, ”This project started three years ago and permit approval would be a significant milestone,” expressing support of the potential economic gains for Churchill County. Rusty Jardine, General Manager TCID said that “We had hoped this project would launch itself and stimulate growth.” Jardine believes this project will benefit 2,500 water users in the Newland’s District by offsetting the operating and maintenance costs of the district. Drew Roshli, terminal manager of Black Gold Terminals located a few miles west of Omaha Track, stated that “I think Northern Nevada is underserved by the rail,” and also supports the new facility. The special use permit was approved by Planning Commission members Charlie Arciniega, Charlotte Louis, Deanna Diehl, and A.C. White, while two commission members Eric Blakey and Paula Utter recused themselves from the vote due to potential conflicts of interest as Blakey has work with the project and Utter works for TCID. Never miss the local news -- read more on The Fallon Post home page. Sign up to receive updates and the Friday File email notices.