Railroad tracks near East Pine Lodge Road stretch northeastward. Mark Wilson Photo
The city is anticipating the retention of 17 jobs, the creation of two new jobs, and an untold economic benefit thanks to $99,000 in Local Economic Development Act funds for the expansion of the Roswell Rail Yard. The news of the funding came Friday from Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela.
“The Rail Yard is a major economic driver in the city of Roswell,” Barela stated in a press release. “It’s essential that state dollars go to infrastructure projects, like the Roswell Rail Yard expansion, that will help to create and retain jobs.”
The LEDA funding will be used to construct 1,000 feet of rail spur for the expansion of Carlsbad-based Southwestern Railroad’s existing operations. The line on which the spur is situated is leased to SR by Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co., which owns the majority of the main rail lines statewide. SR has leased the line from Clovis to Carlsbad. The current spur, located at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Fifth Street, is aged and has been repeatedly repaired. Additionally, the spur is unable to handle the weight of now larger, six-axle rail cars.
Total project costs are in the range of $220,000. The city has pledged $10,000 from the amount that it has accumulated in the franchise agreement with Xcel Energy to relocate some of the utilities, and around $100,000 from its general fund to complete the project. SR is also a partner in the project, putting up $24,000 of the funding.
The expansion will allow Nu-Mex Plastics Inc. and RLC Supply and Logistics, a year-old subsidiary of Roswell Lumber Co., to retain 17 jobs that would otherwise have been lost. Numex uses the line regularly, and RLC receives incoming products from rail cars traveling on the line. Each company has committed to creating one additional job, a stipulation of the agreement with NMEDD.
Justin Ellis, sales manager for RLC and RLC Supply and Logistics, said the improved rail facilities will mean lower costs and increased competition. “By making us more competitive, it’s going to keep business that unfortunately in the past has oftentimes gone outside of Roswell, and been served by distributors out of Albuquerque, Lubbock, Amarillo … and keep those jobs and those dollars in the local economy,” he said.
RLC plans to increase its use of the spur through its new subsidiary. Its approach is to utilize RLC Supply and Logistics to provide product transloading services, common in major metro markets, to companies throughout eastern New Mexico. This will be made easier if RLC is able to establish a facility adjacent to the rail yard, as it hopes.
The expanded spur will be accessible by the public creating a potential for additional jobs to be created.