Railroad construction in progress
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Vehicles wait for the railroad crossing bars to rise after a train passed last week at West Cortaro Farms Road and Interstate 10. The addition of a second Union Pacific line through Marana will require reconfiguring the intersection there.

Union Pacific Railroad is moving forward in its effort to build a second main track through Marana parallel to its first.

Although work at Marana railroad crossings still is probably a year off, Town Engineer Keith Brann said workers are laying the groundwork for tracks elsewhere in the town.

The effort is part of a larger project, set for completion in 2011, that will create double-tracking from Yuma to Tucson.

“They’re out there working on the overall project right now,” Brann said. “They have the base laid down and a lot of the earthen work done.”

A proposed agreement between Union Pacific and the town lays down ground rules for future construction projects that double-tracking will affect or will necessitate.

The railroad project will cost Marana nothing, Brann said, and in some cases it should bring in revenue.

“They’re bringing money to the table for projects Marana would like to do,” Brann said of Union Pacific.

For example, Marana’s proposed Barnett Channel project would move runoff water from the Tortolita Fan on the east side of town through a channel south of Ora Mae Harn Park and the Marana Municipal Complex to the Santa Cruz River.

The town plans to construct a bridge over the channel for the railroad tracks.

The proposed agreement calls for the railroad to pay to install a bridge for the second track. The town would pay to install a bridge for the original track.

Marana’s part of the agreement includes expressing support for the double-tracking project to the Arizona Corporations Commission, the railroad’s regulatory body in Arizona.

Union Pacific’s seven railroad crossings in town intersect with Camino De Manana and with Marana, Tangerine, Cortaro Farms, Massingale, Ina and Joiner roads.

Interchanges to be constructed in the next five years are at Tortolita, Tangerine and Twin Peaks, Planning Director Kevin Kish said.

Brann said the town will use a combination of road closings and regional detours when the time comes for construction work at railroad crossings.

Cortaro Farms Road will shut down for several days continuously, and people will be routed to Ina Road, Brann said. Smaller roads, like Massingale Road, will close.

Mayor Ed Honea said the project is good for Marana.

“They’re upgrading all their drainage facilities and also all the railroad crossings, so we’re getting new pavement, and all the drainage is being upgraded,” he said. “And that helps us with our flood control.”

Eventually, the town could build overpasses at as many as six intersections where trains cross, including at Cortaro Farms and Ina roads. The railroad company would contribute financially toward the projects, according to town documents.

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