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Sep 25, 2012 9:31 PM by Lupita Murillo

State Lands release report on proposed Pinal switching station

TUCSON- A six-year fight over plans for a rail yard in Pinal County is gaining steam.

Union Pacific wants to build the rail yard near Picacho Peak, a state park. The yard would run along the east side of I-10 between East Park Links road, near Red Rock to just south of the Picacho Peak exit.

It would be nearly twice the size of the rail yard in Tucson at 22nd Street. Now, the state's released a land use study.

The reports were commissioned to develop information so the State Land Department could gain a better understanding of whether to sell the property and the impacts of the project on some of the other State Trust land in the vicinity.

Dana Cogburn Barrett has been in the Picacho Peak area for nearly 20 years. "So many other places that this would be better suited. Even the economic feasibility studies that were done by the State Land Department say that," says Barrett.

Despite that, Union Pacific insistis the project would be an economic boost not only for Pinal County but also for neighboring Marana.

Rodney Campbell is the public information officer for the Town of Marana. He says, "Anything that can have the potential to create jobs give people who live here in Marana and the surrounding areas and in the county as well an opportunity to work near where they live is always an advantage."

But not everyone living in the area agrees. Mike Wirth owns Picacho Peak RV Park. He says, "The jobs and the impact on the economy we feel has been mistated as the new report that came out from the State Land Department has shown."

The report says actual employment from 2005 through last year grew at just over 2.5 percent in Pinal County, far below the forecast growth rate. Lynn Mueser is one of the 600 residents of Picacho Peak RV Park, "There's nothing about this that's good for anybody but the railroad."

State land officials say, "These reports are going to be used in further discussions with Union Pacific and Pinal County to determine the future of the application. The State Land Department has not made a final decision regarding the sale of this land."

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