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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Arizona Eastern Railway to build 10-mile line to build up carloads


Many short lines are acquiring or leasing lines from Class Is to increase traffic, but only a few small roads are constructing new lines to boost carloads. Count Arizona Eastern Railway Co. (AZER) among the few.

The 135-mile short line recently filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board seeking approval to build a 10-mile line in Safford, Ariz., to serve a new Phelps Dodge Mining Co. copper mine and proposed industrial park near the city’s airport. AZER operates a line between Bowie and Miami, Ariz., and interchanges with Union Pacific Railroad in Bowie.

Construction on the $22 million project — which calls for building a 500-foot bridge across the Gila River — is scheduled to begin in mid-2007 and conclude in 2008.

AZER currently handles more than 7,000 carloads annually for Phelps Dodge Mining. The new line is expected to generate more than 5,000 additional carloads.

“By building a railroad directly to the mine rather than relying on trucks to transfer product from the mine to the railroad, approximately 22,000 truck trips per year will be avoided,” AZER officials said in a prepared statement.

The short line is owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings L.L.C., which acquired AZER from RailAmerica Inc. in December 2004 and owns three other small roads in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.