The 250-acre industrial rail park development will be located off U.S. 281, about two and a half miles south of Three Rivers.
While the location right now is still a brush area, partners Mike Howard, CEO of Howard Energy, and Barton Simpson, Live Oak Railroad (LORR) development partner, hope to be moving dirt by next month.
“Currently we are finalizing all the Union Pacific agreements,” Howard said.
The rail park will have a switch off the Union Pacific line that already runs through Live Oak County. The switch will allow trains to move into the rail park and load and unload whatever they are hauling.
Simpson said they have the ability to lay 28,000 feet, or more than five miles, of track but will only lay what is needed.
The partnership is currently looking for tenants to lease space in their future park and utilize their rail spur.
The tenants can either build their own tracks or LORR will build for them.
“We expect our rail to help with truck traffic,” Howard said.
Most things that can be moved by truck can also be moved by rail, including pipe, frac sand, crude and equipment.
“One hundred tons of aggregate can go in a single railcar and that is equivalent to four semis,” Simpson said.
The railroad will not just bring stuff in but also move stuff out. With the large hydrocarbon production underway, it has to leave the area to be processed somewhere and rail is another option for moving it out.
“It’s a long-term fix to logistic problems,” Howard said.
The two believe the park’s location is setting their future project up for success.
They said a community railroad to load and unload does not currently exist in the area and because of its proximity, the Eagle Ford businesses will be able to use the park as another logistics choice.
According to Simpson, the biggest part of the project will be building the initial switch off the Union Pacific line but after that things should move rapidly.
“We can lay down a lot of track quickly,” he said, “1,000 feet per week.”
If necessary the partners are prepared to put in crude oil storage but a lot is yet to be determined until tenant leases are signed.
The number of jobs the rail park brings is yet to be determined as is the total tax benefit to the county. But, Simpson said, “in our opinion, we will be here a long time.”
“Our goal is to make this thing an industrial hub,” Howard said.