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Mission Rail Park could awaken Saspamco
This map depicts the location of the proposed 1,003-acre Mission Rail Park to be built in Saspamco, which will be headquartered in close proximity to other companies lured to the area by the Eagle Ford shale.
Wilson County NewsMarch 13, 2013 3,918 views 2 comments
SASPAMCO -- Wilson County Pct. 1 Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. is hopeful that a 1,003-acre railroad park planned for a site that straddles the Bexar County border could breathe new life into a once-vibrant community.
“Saspamco was a busy town; we had it all,” Gamez said during a March 1 interview. “We had a post office, grocery stores, housing.”
Gamez, who has resided in Saspamco his entire life, said he remembers the heyday of Mission Clay Products. He estimates that even into the 1980s, there were 200 people working at the clay-pipe manufacturing plant located on C.R. 128. Gamez, who worked there for 20 years, said the plant now employs just four people.
Just north of the plant, where C.R. 128 crosses the line into Bexar County to become Old Corpus Christi Road, on a property bordered by Gillett Road and the San Antonio River, CBRE has plans to develop the Mission Rail Park. The company estimates that the park will be the largest rail development ever seen in the San Antonio area.
CBRE representatives Terry Warth and Scott Nelson updated the Wilson County Commissioners Court about the project during the commissioners’ March 11 meeting. Warth said that he envisions the Mission Rail Park as part of a neighborhood that includes petrochemical-based businesses such as Weatherford, Baker Hughes, Platinum Energy Solutions, and Halliburton. All four companies, lured by the oil and natural-gas exploration activities in the nearby Eagle Ford shale play, recently have set up operations along Interstate 37 and Southeast Loop 1604 in Bexar County.
These developments are part of the reason for the rail park, which Gamez said could provide a considerably less-expensive means for materials transport as opposed to moving them by truck. He hopes that once the park is developed, Wilson County could negotiate having road-base material shipped there, since shipping currently accounts for the bulk of that expense.
Warth said that plans call for three tracks, each measuring approximately 5,000 feet long, to be laid in the park. These tracks would be joined to an existing Southern Pacific Railroad line that terminates at the Bexar County border, which would be extended into Wilson County and across C.R. 128.
Nelson said that after construction is complete, which he estimates could take up to eight months, the park could service trains as long as 100 cars. The land has been cleared, he said. Now, six to eight weeks of grading will commence before tracks are laid.
Truck traffic to service the park will be directed south on Old Corpus Christi Road from Loop 1604. Warth said trucks will leave the park along the same route, and he assured the commissioners that they would not proceed south on C.R. 128. Plans are under way with Pape Dawson to construct a deceleration lane to allow smoother entry into the park.
Wilson County Pct. 2 Com-missioner Paul Pfeil asked Warth if he had an estimate of how many jobs the Mission Rail Park would create. Warth said that it all would depend on the unique needs of the tenants that would occupy the facility, but that all of the businesses likely would support activities in the Eagle Ford shale. He said Weatherford, for instance, has projected 300 on-site employees, while Halliburton has talked of employing as many as 1,500.
All of this could mean a new day for Saspamco, which Gamez believes could lead to new businesses, including stores and restaurants, opening in the area.
“It could bring a lot of opportunities for Saspamco again,” he said.
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