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FastTracks Expansion Plans Anger Some Residents In Fort Lupton
RTD Wants Union Pacific Property; Railroad Looking To Move Freight Operations To Weld County
10:10 AM, Apr 27, 2007
A plan to expand commuter rail in Denver may affect residents in and around Fort Lupton.RTD is looking to take over Union Pacific's rail classification yard and intermodal facility near 40th Avenue and Brighton Boulevard in north Denver. The transit agency wants the property for its east corridor and north metro corridor, as well as for a rail car maintenance facility.If RTD takes over the Denver property, the railroad would have to move its operations elsewhere. Right now it's looking at 640 acres in Weld County.That plan doesn't sit well with many residents near Fort Lupton."It will bring more traffic, noise and pollution," said Kerry Kramer-Murray, whose family owns a historic Centennial farm nearby."It (the farm) has been in the family for 103 years. It's part of the Colorado Historical Society, and this railroad proposal will come right up to our property line."Some railroad opponents say the Weld County site is inappropriate for a new classification yard because the soil contains too much gravel."The ground water is going to be contaminated from the railroad. Every kind of hazardous material, chemical and fuel known to mankind could end up getting spilled."Dick Hartman, special representative to the president of Union Pacific Railroad said, "We wouldn't consider moving to a site that was unacceptable for that use."Hartman also said, "We've been asked to relocate. Had we not been, we'd go on doing business at our existing locations."The proposed site near Fort Lupton is east of County Road 27 and south of County Road 10. It would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week."From an economic standpoint this is huge to Weld County," said Larry Burkhardt of Upstate Colorado Economic Development. "This has the potential to create thousands of new jobs."Burkhardt said there could be three phases of economic growth. The first would come from the railroad moving its operations. The second would be from national firms building warehouses adjacent to the classification yard. And the third would come from the service industry moving in to take care of new residents and employees."It's not a done deal," said James Barnes, director of media information for Union Pacific.He said a feasibility study is under way to see if it makes sense to move operations to Fort Lupton.Opponents argue that the railroad should look elsewhere.They say a similar operation in Dallas generates traffic upward of 700 trucks a day."I don't feel any of our infrastructure can handle two trucks a minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said resident Jaff Hayen.Kramer-Murray added, "Front Range airport (near Watkins) welcomes them with open arms. Let them go where they're wanted. They're not welcome here."Hartman said the railroad is not looking at any other property.