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Alternatives to be carried forward in the EIS

The EIS will analyze and compare the potential impacts of construction and operation of the Proposed Action, reasonable alternative routes, and the No-Action Alternative (denial of construction and operation authority).

Following consultation with the United States Coast Guard; United States Army Corps of Engineers; International Boundary and Water Commission; other appropriate federal, state, and local agencies; Native American tribes; other affected stakeholders; the public; and GER, OEA has determined that the reasonable alternatives that the EIS will analyze in detail are:

Proposed Action (Southern Rail Alternative), GER’s preferred route. GER originally proposed a route that would have diverged from the UP mainline at approximate milepost 31, crossed Seco Creek, curved to the south of Seco Creek on an embankment, crossed over Rodriguez Street, Barrera Street, and U.S. 277 (Del Rio Boulevard) using bridges with an embankment in between, traversed an undeveloped area, crossed Seco Creek in two locations, and continued to and across the Rio Grande River. On June 27, 2024, GER sent OEA a letter modifying its original route. The modified route departs the UP mainline at the same location as the originally proposed route and follows the same route as the original route until the crossing over U.S. 277. West of U.S. 277, the modified route curves slightly to the south of the originally proposed route to avoid potential impacts associated with crossing Seco Creek and continues to and across the Rio Grande River. This route is now GER’s preferred alternative route and is referred to as the Southern Rail Alternative.

Northern Rail Alternative. Based on information obtained through the scoping process (including data collection, technical evaluations, and an additional site visit), OEA developed the Northern Rail Alternative as another reasonable build alternative for consideration in the EIS. The Northern Rail Alternative would follow a similar route as the Southern Rail Alternative from the UP mainline to U.S. 277 but diverge to the north approximately 0.1 mile west of U.S. 277 to minimize visual impacts to the residences south of Seco Creek. The Northern Rail Alternative would cross Seco Creek slightly to the north of GER’s originally proposed route, continue straight, and curve to cross Seco Creek and the Rio Grande River on the Rail Bridge. Under this alternative, the Rail Bridge would be located a little farther north than the Rail Bridge associated with the Southern Rail Alternative.

View map showing both alternatives

Alternatives considered but not carried forward in the EIS

OEA reviewed and dismissed from detailed analysis several other rail routes that GER had considered. Those routes would have run farther north than the Southern and Northern Rail Alternatives, from the UP Clark’s Park Yard and along or near FM 1588 (Thompson Road), through residential areas, industrial areas, and open space before crossing the Rio Grande River. OEA determined that those routes would be infeasible because to connect with the UP mainline, the routes would have to cross the existing yard track used for switching, which would interfere with existing rail operations. In addition, some of the routes would displace numerous residences or industrial properties. The routes would also require longer bridges across the Rio Grande River than either the Southern or the Northern Rail Alternatives. Therefore, the EIS will carry forward the Southern Rail Alternative, the Northern Rail Alternative, and the No-Action Alternative for detailed analysis in the EIS.


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