Railroad improvements, expansion coming to Altoona section of track

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

Union Pacific will begin $30 million dollars in improvements and expansion at the Altoona railroad site beginning in the next few months.

"It's the legacy and future of Altoona that we are a railroad community," said Mike Golat, Altoona City Administrator.

You see it in the signs and on the water. In downtown Altoona, the railroad is front and center.

And beginning in the next few months, $30 million dollars worth of improvements and expansion are on the way.

The first phase will extend eight tracks at the rail yard and add five additional tracks.

Marks Davis, a spokesperson with Union Pacific, says it is about efficiency.

"That will provide us some additional ability to sort rail cars by destinations, so that will be helpful for us," he said.

Phase one will wrap up by mid-2015. Then, it is on to phase two which should last about half a year. Crews will add a Y-Track so trains are able to turn around.

In all, the project will cost $30 million dollars and will be funded through Union Pacific.

At Thursday night's Altoona City Council meeting, council members voted to approve an agreement that will save the city money.

It will provide Union Pacific additional drainage space at the expansion site - in return, Union Pacific will move a water main the city is obligated to move.

City Administrator Mike Golat says moving that water main would have cost the city about $70,000.

The expansion and improvement projects are happening across Wisconsin and Minnesota as frac sand mining continues to gain steam. It has meant more rail traffic.

"This has helped our economy in many ways and provided jobs in the community, Golat added.

He says it has also meant more noise complaints. But he says the pros and cons of a railroad come with the community.

"It's part of who we are in Altoona," Golat added.

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