City says train tracks issues won't derail ballpark project

City says train tracks issues won't derail ballpark project

EL PASO, Texas - One of the biggest challenges of building a triple-a ballpark in downtown El Paso will be working around the train tracks.

On Tuesday, City Council approved a $163,000 agreement for preliminary engineering services with Union Pacific railroad. Its trains run through the Bataan Memorial Railway and right past City Hall, the future site of the ballpark, dozens of times a day.

City Engineer Alan Shubert is the man in charge of El Paso's ballpark construction. One of the biggest challenges he faces is working with the railroad.

"Railroads have their own set of regulatory issues and you can't do everything with a railroad quickly," Shubert says.

Before a brick can be laid for the ballpark, the plans must get Union Pacific approval.

Shubert said that while the grandstand shouldn't be a problem, covering the railway could present some issues for Union Pacific.

"If they have a derailment, they've gotta be able to get in the trainway or get a crane above it, so we've actually talked about 'can we make removable panels, is there other things we can do?'" Shubert explained.

He added that Union Pacific, which at one point owned half of Omaha's Pacific Coast League Triple-A team, is quite baseball friendly.

Shubert said he remains confident all of the issues with the ballpark and trainway can be worked out in time for Opening Day in 2014, even if the walkways are not completed by then.

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