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Aggie Daily News
Union Pacific, A&M, CS officials agree to slow trains
By Luke Jackson
Friday, October 1, 2004
Representatives from Union Pacific met with Texas A&M and College Station city officials Wednesday and decided to lower the train speeds to 40 mph effective Thursday morning.
The trains' speed was 50 mph in College Station, which is 10 miles over the 40 mph limit in the area between FM 2818 and Holleman Drive, according to College Station Ordinance 2621.
The train speeds were changed in June but Sippial said he didn't find out about the change until two weeks ago.
Miscommunication between Union Pacific and local officials caused initial confusion last week. Sippial said Union Pacific had not notified him and his staff of the speed increase.
"Normally, (Union Pacific) makes an announcement to the leaders and general public of an area that we are increasing speeds in an area, and we are currently engaged in an internal investigation to see how that miscommunication occurred," said Katherine Blackwell, the general director of Corporate Communications for Union Pacific. "Getting information out to the public is very important to Union Pacific."
Last week, Union Pacific representative David Bromley said the federal government has the ultimate say in the matter because railroad regulation falls under federal jurisdiction and therefore supercedes local ordinance.
College Station City Manager Tom Brymer, who was present at the meeting, said the dialogue among A&M officials, College Station officials and Union Pacific Railroad officials was positive.
"It was a constructive and candid conversation between the officials present," Brymer said.
Brymer said that when construction at Villa Maria near the College Station city lines is completed, Union Pacific plans to have another meeting with College Station officials to discuss possibly raising the speed limit back to 50 mph.
"The construction at Villa Maria is estimated to be completed between 18 to 24 months, but that's a matter under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation," Brymer said.
Some A&M students had no problem with the speed increase in the first place, because faster speeds meant less time to wait at railroad stops when trains passed through.
"I think an increase to 50 mph is good because the train comes through so much during the day that it can cause people to be late to class - the sooner a train is out of the way, the better," said senior political science major Adam Everett. "As long as people obey the railroad traffic laws and don't try to 'beat the trains,' then a 10 mph increase should be OK."
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