Railroad improvements planned in Idaho
Published: April 4,2011
Tags: Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad is planning improvements to tracks, ties, crossings and other infrastructure across Idaho this year in anticipation of a railroad rebound from an economic lull.
The work in Idaho is part of $3.2 billion in improvements the railroad plans to make in more than 20 states, Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said.
“We are cautiously optimistic that things are moving in a positive direction and we’re preparing for that,” Hunt told the Idaho Press Tribune in a story published April 1.
Union Pacific is the nation’s largest railroad, with 32,400 miles of track crossing 23 states from the Midwest to the West and Gulf coasts. In Idaho, it owns 849 miles of track and employs 950 people.
The company has been gradually hiring back workers as the economy and shipping volumes slowly improve. About 1,500 Union Pacific employees remained furloughed at the end of 2010, down from 4,200 at the end of 2009.
In January, the company reported its fourth-quarter profit had soared 41 percent as the U.S. economy continued to gain momentum and shipping volume along the nation’s rail system increased.
Nampa city leaders say an increase in rail activity would help the local economy. Nampa is one of two hubs for the railroad in southern Idaho.
“The railroad came to Nampa before it came to Boise,” Nampa Economic Development Director Cliff Long said. “The railroad is important to Nampa, not just as a service for our industries and our ability to ship anywhere in the world, but also the operations center is a valuable employer.”
Union Pacific’s network of track in southern Idaho is critical to the region’s agricultural industry, helping ship potatoes, sugar beets, grain, fertilizer, phosphate and other products to out-of-state markets.
The company also ships along track connecting northern Idaho cities like Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene to markets in Canada and other western states.
Company data shows rail shipping has declined in Idaho in the past four years. In 2007, more than 96,600 rail cars originated in Idaho compared to 85,100 last year.
Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, http://www.idahopress.com
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