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WJBD - Local News - Union Pacific To Make $20-Million In Improvements To Salem Yards

Train Town USA Designation. Left to right are Salem Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Leonard Ferguson, Adrian Guerrero of the Union Pacific who made the presentation to Mayor John Raymer and Councilman Royce Bringwald.

Union Pacific To Make $20-Million In Improvements To Salem Yards

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

The Director of Public Affairs for the Union Pacific Railroad in Illinois says a major capital improvement project is coming to the rail yards on the northeast side of Salem. That was one of several positive announcements Adrian Guerrero shared at the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Thursday afternoon.

"The Salem Yards are slated for expansion, with construction planned to begin later this year. This project will invest just below $20-million of UP capital funding to meet the yards demands for capacity and efficient operations. With approximately 200 employees already, we anticipate this project bringing more opportunity for workforce development." Guerrero says at this point he can't say how many new jobs the upgrade of the Salem yard might create.

The work is part of 3.6-billion dollars in infrastructure improvements planned by the railroad that had its best year in history in 2012. Guerrero noted the importance Salem plays in rail traffic across a multi-state area and the role Illinois and Chicago play as the rail capital of the world. 

Guerrero then announced a special designation for Salem. "As we celebrate our 150th Anniversary across our system, we have developed a program called Train Town where we recognize the communities that have been an integral part of the Union Pacific's history, our present and our future," said Guerrero. "After speaking to Mayor Raymer, it was clear the city of Salem was a clear candidate for that designation and I'm here today to make that dedication."

Guerrero presented Mayor John Raymer with two signs to place in the city designating it as a Train Town. A special coin minted to celebrate the railroad's 150th birthday was also presented as a gift to the city. The railroad owed its start in July 1865 to a law signed by then President Abraham Lincoln.

Guerrero used his visit to also announce two grants being awarded through the Union Pacific Foundation. A $15,000 grant will go to Bryan Memorial Park to hire professional assistance to plan the park's future as well as to assist in laying out a trail. The Salem Community Activity Center received a $10,000 grant for capital improvements.

Guerrero also shared just how much freight the railroad handles each year. They haul enough lumber in a single day to build 1,000 homes. 10,000 miles of cars are delivered each year. Enough ethanol was delivered last year to replace one month worth of Persian Gulf Oil.  

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