SIKESTON -- A plan to abandon the railroad tracks alongside Malone Avenue has been halted by Union Pacific Railroad.
In a letter this week to Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall, Joseph R. Bateman, senior assistant vice president of government affairs for Union Pacific, told of the railroad's intent to not proceed with the abandonment.
"While we had hoped to make arrangements with the customers involved to satisfy their concerns, it appears we have not been successful," Bateman wrote in the letter.
This summer Union Pacific announced that it would like to abandon the tracks on Malone Avenue that currently are a dead-end spur ending at Steward Steel in Miner. The announcement drew concerns from the two businesses that still use the tracks: Steward Steel and Tetra Pak.
Steward Steel advised the city it didn't want to lose its rail access while Tetra Pak said the tracks were indispensable for its operation.
"Our raw material is paperboard and it comes in by rail. If the Union Pacific Railroad abandons this line, it will greatly increase our cost of obtaining this material and put us at a tremendous disadvantage in an extremely competitive market," explained John L. Bryant, plant manager for Tetra Pak after the Union Pacific announcement to abandon the tracks was made known.
Tetra Pak takes in about 35 rail cars per month in supplies.
City officials went on record at the time with the position that "if abandonment of the spur is going to hurt local businesses and industry, we don't want it to happen," said City Manager Doug Friend.
Bateman said in his letter to Marshall that Union Pacific will continue to look at the future of the tracks.
"In the long term, as with any rail line, the viability of this line depends on the economics of operating the line versus the revenue it generates. We will continue to work with these shippers on these issues," Bateman said in the letter.