Railroad to base operations here in August
The local economy will get a boost in August from Union Pacific Railroad, which will use Marion as its base of operations for track maintenance from Herington to Whitewater.
“It’s huge,” Union Pacific safety captain Lindal Peace said. “A lot of cities just don’t realize what income we bring in. We’ve got like 90 to 120 guys, and they’ve been having to travel. Most of them are staying in Junction City right now.”
City administrator Roger Holter sees the value.
“It’s a great opportunity for our merchants to reach out to them and make them welcome in our community,” Holter said.
Workers and equipment will start rolling into town Aug. 8, Peace said. He has worked with local officials and businesses to accommodate the invasion.
The size of the crew is larger than what motels in Marion and Hillsboro can handle.
“We filled them up; there’s no vacancies left,” Peace said. “It’s been pretty tough trying to find accommodations. This is not the only place we run into that. It’s just part of the job.”
Peace also needs a place to park trailers and equipment that will accommodate morning strategy sessions before workers head to the tracks.
“We have about 80 private vehicles they drive to work, and then we put them on a bus to take them to the track,” Peace said.
School and youth facilities will accommodate the need, Holter said.
“USD 408 has granted use of the parking lot to the south of the Sports and Aquatics Center,” he said. “MAC has granted use of the youth center parking lot for equipment, vehicles, and supplies.”
Peace is grateful.
“They’ve worked hard in helping us out,” he said. “Sometimes it’s almost impossible, but they made it happen for me. My hat’s off to them for that.”
Other communities aren’t always as receptive as Marion has been, Peace said.
“Some places I go to they don’t even want to see us coming,” he said.
The railroad stresses with workers the importance of being good community guests.
“We’ve got rules in our company that everybody abides by,” Peace said. “We don’t abuse anything; we don’t trash anything. When we come to a place we leave it cleaner than we found it.
“We’re looking forward to coming over there. I’ve been there before, several years ago, and it’s always a good experience to show up in your town.”
The Union Pacific maintenance operation will be based in Marion through the end of August, Peace said.