STB approves new line for Arizona Eastern

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WASHINGTON - Earlier this month the Surface Transportation Board approved a request by the Arizona Eastern Railway to build a new 12.1-mile line between the Safford Regional Airport and the Dos Pobres Mine (Safford Mine) in Safford, Ariz. The mine opened in 2008. Shuttle trains of copper ore will be transported by Arizona Eastern to the smelter at Miami, Ariz.

The new line would begin at Lone Star Junction near Safford at milepost 1133.5, and proceed north for 12.1 miles. It would cross U.S. Highway 70 and the Gila River on a new 500-foot bridge. The line would then turn in a northeast direction toward the Safford Regional Airport and terminate at the Safford Mine. It would handle freight traffic to and from the Safford Mine and could also serve the Safford Regional Airport and provide rail service to a contemplated industrial park adjacent to the airport.

Arizona Eastern is a short line controlled by Iowa Pacific Holdings Inc. through holding company Permian Basin Railways Inc. Its two main routes are a 134-mile ex-Southern Pacific line from a connection with Union Pacific's Sunset Route in Bowie, Ariz., to Miami, purchased from RailAmerica in 2004; and a 70-mile ex-SP line from a UP connection at Lordsburg, N.M., to Clifton, Ariz., acquired from UP in 2008.

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