Henderson freight rail line increasing economic opportunity in Rusk County

East Texas News at 6.
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2022 at 8:02 PM CDT

HENDERSON, Texas (KLTV) - A project over a decade in the making is increasing economic opportunity in Henderson and the county of Rusk as a whole.

A 13-mile stretch of rail line between Henderson and Overton was in danger of being torn up. The original line was placed in the 1870s and around 2010, Union Pacific had plans to tear it up.

According to John Cloutier, President of the Rusk County Rural Rail District, the county judge at the time, Sandra Hodges, and current county judge Joel Hale found it to be a priority to maintain rail service in the county.

In 2012, the rail line and right of way was purchased and since that time, the City of Henderson and the Rusk County Rural Rail District have been partnering with groups to help it grow. They received a grant from NET RMA as well as a large federal grant. They have been replacing ties and working to get the rail line in good shape.

Cloutier said the year before they bought the rail line, the operating company Blacklands Rail moved 30 cars down the line. Last year, Cloutier said they moved 3,000 cars.

Cloutier said the rail line is important to Rusk County, since the county does not have an interstate highway or a college campus in it, two of the highest drivers of economic growth and opportunity.

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