Friday, June 1, 2012

Lone Star Rail takes aim at Coupland area for new freight rail line

Since the 1980's, the Coupland area has been targeted for one massive project after another--Austin's airport, the first bullet train, relocating FM 973 farther east, and last but not least, the Trans-Texas Corridor.  Now, it seems the area west of Coupland would make a dandy place for a freight rail line.  As one resident said,  "Do we have a target on our back, or what?!"

On May 23, representatives of Lone Star Rail made a presentation in the fellowship hall of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland regarding the proposed freight rail bypass that would run from Taylor to San Antonio, through the area west of Coupland. In attendance were Coupland Civic Organization board members, Coupland Incorporation Committee members, Blackland Prairie Concerned Citizens members, and Norman’s Crossing Community members. Thanks to Coupland Civic Organization President Barbara Piper for organizing this meeting.

The presentation was made by Joe Black, director of Lone Star Rail, assisted by Jenny Gregorcyk and Mike Madison of Hahn, Texas, Lone Star Rail’s public relations firm. Lone Star Rail, which is an independent local government agency created by the state legislature, wishes to run passenger rail on the existing Union Pacific line from Georgetown, through Austin, to San Antonio. This would require that the current freight rail be moved off that line to a new line.  The perfect place for that new line will be somewhere east of SH 130 and west of Hwy. 95, meaning the area west of Coupland.

Lone Star Rail distributed a map that shows the rail bypass study area that is several miles wide and includes the Coupland area. The possible rail route alternatives have been narrowed to three, which are not yet being shown to the public. The rail bypass project will be subjected to the process of a Federal Environmental Impact Statement; Black does not expect this to begin until 2013. Coupland residents will have to wait until then to see what routes this rail bypass might take through their area.  After all, we're only the residents and property owners--just waiting for others to try to arrange our lives for us, once again.