PA council hears abandonment requests from USA Rail Terminals, Motiva

Published 12:20 am Saturday, July 25, 2020

An official with USA Rail Terminals assured Port Arthur councilmembers during a property abandonment hearing that construction of a rail yard would not create disturbing noise in a nearby neighborhood.

USA Rail Terminals requested the city abandon nearly 2 acres of right-of-way on 53rd Street, north of Texas 73 between Twin City Highway and the Kansas City Southern Railway, for the proposed rail yard. City officials did previously voice concerns about potential noise and proximity of the area to residential development, which Port Arthur director of development services Pamela Langford said is a quarter-mile away from property managed by the Port Arthur Housing Authority.

Steve Roth, executive vice president of USA Rail Terminals, informed city officials that activity would be performed at walking speed and no loud noises would occur. He added neighbors had rails lying closer to them than where the storage yard would be adjacent to them.

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“The good news about a storage yard is that the rail cars are placed in there,” Roth told councilmembers. “They sit there for sometimes extended periods of time, and they’re moved onto the KCS main line to where they’re transported again by the Class 1 railroad. In a private rail yard such as ours, we’re not required to blow whistles or blow horns or anything of that nature. Any movement of the rail cars, which is pretty silent in its own way, is done in a walking speed.”

No public objection to the appraisal was launched, and no decisions were made during the hearing, which was one of two heard during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

In the other, Motiva Enterprises requested a 0.4-acre portion of area on Terminal Road to improve the safety of and restrict driving into plant operations.

A resolution to abandon the right-of-way would need to be placed on a future city council agenda for a decision.

USA Rail Terminals, which has a terminal north of 53rd Street and west of Twin City, filed an application for abandonment that was received Jan. 2.

“By being able to come in there and develop a rail terminal, we have improved that particular area quite a bit,” Roth said. “I think just from that standpoint, but we were hoping because 53rd Street was a maintenance issue and never went anywhere, anyway, towards that direction and could never go farther past the Kansas City main line. We were hoping that was something that could be abandoned where would be able to access the property through that privately.”

He stated that operation of the proposed rail yard would reduce the number of rail cars currently on the KCS track.

“What we’re doing is taking 400 rail cars over time and storing some of those at our location so they can go to Huntsman International, which is only half a mile from our yard, and eliminate a lot of the traffic that goes back-and-forth to Beaumont,” Roth said. “Not only is that a benefit for the industry, which is Exxon and Huntsman International, but it also is a benefit to the railroad. I feel certain it would be a benefit to the citizens to not have that many rail cars go through Port Arthur, Nederland and Port Neches back-and-forth to the Beaumont Kansas City yard.”

The portion of the right-of-way Motiva requested for abandonment is located north of West 19th Street and east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Jay Hall, Motiva deals manager, was asked what changed to make Motiva request the abandonment.

“For lack of a better term, I don’t think it’s been on anyone’s radar,” Hall said. “As we continue with our expansion, now would be the appropriate time to circumvent that issue just to prevent any type of public safety issues.”

Motiva filed an application for abandonment last November.


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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