By Brittany Anderson
An upcoming railroad siding project has residents of Creekside Village, a neighborhood in Kyle, concerned for their safety and privacy, among other things.
Railroad siding is a track to the side of the main line that allows trains to pass and the uploading and offloading of stock.
During the citizen comment period at the city council meeting on Aug. 3, Cynthia Salinas, a Creekside Village homeowner, brought a petition from both herself and neighbors citing a list of concerns about the Kyle Siding Project.
The project is part of the 2016 Road Bond Program. In spring 2018, the project was selected to award funds after the city submitted a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) grant application.
The project will relocate the existing rail siding that currently overlaps South Street and Center Street (FM 150) and move it north between Burleson Street to north of Kohlers Crossing. Per Union Pacific Railroad requirements, the siding will be approximately 1.9 miles in length.
The Creekside Village petition against the project includes noise, safety, privacy and environmental concerns. They say that during construction, the removal of trees will harm many species of birds in the area, and that the drainage structures behind their homes risk being affected and causing potential flooding. Additionally, there are concerns that there will be an increase in traffic around the neighborhood.
Salinas said that the siding’s proximity to their homes is a major concern, saying that it will only be 13 feet away from her fence and only five feet away from a house on James Adkins Drive. She also said that there is already a need for a sound barrier, and the current tracks are in poor condition and need to be fixed.
“When the train passes by, our house and decor shakes badly,” Salinas said. “Even homes a block away. They have to fix those tracks. The spikes are out completely. It scares us if anything were to happen, if the train were to derail.”
According to Mark Jones, Pct. 2 Hays County commissioner, the siding will enhance safety, improve freight operations and improve traffic flow through the area by preventing stopped trains from contributing to traffic congestion in downtown Kyle.
The proposed location was chosen to avoid impacting existing at-grade roadway crossings and to take advantage of the existing grade separation at FM 1626. Additionally, the existing Union Pacific right-of-way (ROW) for a majority of the area is 100 feet wide, which minimizes ROW acquisition needs.
They also said that existing drainage structures directly impacted by siding construction would be replaced.
Salinas said many residents are unhappy that the proposal was made before the homes were built and that they were not forewarned of the project. She said the petition mentions their disappointment with the city, county, Union Pacific and D.R. Horton, the construction company, for not letting them know this was planned.
“We are pleading with the city of Kyle to reconsider moving or stopping the project,” Salinas told council. “If the city feels this project must go on, we want a sound barrier wall to help reduce the noise and safety concerns, and good drainage so our homes don’t flood.”
Because the project is currently in the middle of the environmental process and additional ROW is required at various locations throughout the project limits, construction is not anticipated to begin until 2023.