Greg Seay and Barton Simpson, managing partners of the Live Oak Railroad — a local industrial rail yard — predict it could help generate new jobs for South Texas.
By BEN TINSLEY
LIVE OAK COUNTY – The partners behind the Live Oak Railroad predict that it might become “the little train that could” when it comes to generating new jobs for the South Texas economy.
Under production for the past couple of years, this railroad—a privately-owned, industrial rail yard between Three Rivers and George West in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale—is designed to provide transportation for oil and gas and industrial companies.
Strategically placed along the Union Pacific rail line between San Antonio and the Port of Corpus Christi, the railroad provides daily storage and on-demand railcar handling and switching services to tenants and surrounding businesses.
The development of the railroad was, therefore, prompted by the area’s oil and gas production—with an eye toward catering to all companies with stakes in South Texas. But any success that railroad management enjoys will ultimately be shared in terms of growth with areas such as Live Oak County, emphasizes Managing Partner Barton Simpson.
“The benefit is that all the companies we have coming to do business here through the railroad ultimately will provide long-term, good jobs for this regional area,” Simpson said. “And we’re talking about people who will need to actually live in Live Oak—not anything interim or temporary. This will be a permanent work force of good jobs, long-term jobs, that will come to support the industries that are here.”
A report from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts indicates South Texas has many strategic advantages because of its location but also faces challenges in maintaining infrastructure and expanding to meet the needs of the area’s growing population and economy.
“It is important to all Texans that the state continues its economic growth and discovers new opportunities,” the report states.
And it is here that the Live Oak Railroad partners say their innovations can do a world of good for South Texas.
Driving along Highway 281, passersby might notice the fairly huge sign promoting the railroad. The railroad slogan? “Building value through logistical solutions.”
Railroad customers specialize in petrochemical, renewable power, refining-processing, steel, aggregates, agribusiness, chemical, inter-modal, lumber, manufacturing, mining and oil field services.
One key advertising point for these customers is that the railroad’s partners can provide operations management, industrial development, business development, rail-yard planning and oil and gas shale play logistics for customers.
There’s a lot going on with the railroad, officials said.
“We have about $110 million in committed capital with different projects going on in and around the rail yard,” Managing Partner Greg Seay told Energy & Mining International magazine.
The Live Oak County Railroad is located on property that was formerly part of the Cuatro Paisanas Ranch, said Simpson, who added that his wife is one of the owners of that ranch.
“The family sold us a parcel to develop it,” Simpson said. “It currently encompasses just under 400 acres. At this point, north and south interconnect with the Union Pacific line. We have 28,000 feet of track on the ground.”
In addition to the potential benefits to the local economy, the transportation services the railroad provides might also help reduce truck traffic, Simpson said.
“Right now we have been 300 to 400 cars a month and our goal is to increase that to 2,500 to 3,000 a month,” he said.
The “Live Oak Railroad Industrial Rail Park” is located at 3730 South Highway 281, or online at http://www.eaglefordrail.com.
Ben Tinsley is a reporter for The Progress. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.