Union Pacific's Brazos Yard expected to bring in hundreds of local jobs

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HEARNE, Tex. (KBTX)- The company that built railroads across the United States is breaking ground and making their largest investment ever right here in the Brazos Valley.

"The Brazos Yard will be the largest facility Union Pacific has ever built. It's about a 1,800 acre facility and it's actually going to be one of the largest in Texas," said Brenda Mainwaring, Union Pacific's Public Director.

At full capacity, Mainwaring said it will be one of the largest rail yards in the country.

"When we first open in 2020, we'll be handling about 1,300 cars a day. That's comparable to some of the largest yards here in Texas, but at full capacity, we will be able to handle hundreds more," said Mainwaring.

When they open, Mainwaring said there will be 500 jobs available to the community.

"Railroad jobs are great jobs... We are an economic driver, so we are excited about working with this community to advance their goals to economic development," said Mainwaring.

Mainwaring said the reason why the chose the 1,800 acres off FM 50 in Robertson County was because of how deep the history of the railroads are in Hearne.

"We have seven different subdivisions that go to different parts of the country that cross right here in Robertson County, so this is the perfect spot for us to put a yard and collect all of those cars coming in and sending them out to different locations. It really enhances our ability to operate," said Mainwaring.

John Naron with the City of Hearne said they are excited to continue their work with the company.

"We've had a good relationship with Union Pacific. They have been good to our community, so this is going to impact us, and I think they did a great job strategically picking this spot," said Naron.

Robertson County isn't the only one reaping the benefits of the new rail yard. College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said he expects to also see an impact in Brazos County.

"As I was meeting with folks at Union Pacific, they were telling me that some of them are moving here and that College Station was at the top of their list," said Mooney.

Mainwaring said although they didn't build because of Texas A&M, Union Pacific has been working close with the university for years.

"We have a lot of Aggies working for Union Pacific and we have a long standing relationship because we do a lot of recruiting there and we have a lot of connections with the Texas Transportation Institute," said Mainwaring.

Mainwaring said she hopes they can offer new opportunities to some of the engineering students at Texas A&M in the future.

"Some of those engineering students have never seen a rail yard built, because a rail yard has not been built in their lifetime, so we hope they can come out and get their boots on the ground and understand what railroad engineering is really all about," said Mainwaring.

A study by Texas A&M University’s Engineering Extension Service predicted the Brazos Yard will generate $260 million a year for the state of Texas. Completion is expected in 2020.