– Read this carefully –
There is a tremendous lesson here — How Bureaucrats think and navigate “The System” they created – [that we are all ignorant of] – This is an example:
Recently, I wrote a letter to Mayor Hering asking for information regarding the construction of the City-Owned BNSF Rail Spur that connects to the new Knauf Insulation facilities south of McGregor on State Highway 317.
I have not received an answer from the Mayor or the City of McGregor as of April 22, 2023.
The premise is — If you are asking the “Wrong Questions” — then — Don’t expect the “Right Answer.”
With ALL Bureaucrats:
Bureaucrats create a need for themselves by creating “an elaborate system” where we need THEM to guide us thru their very elaborate system.
The questions we should be asking Bureaucrats are:
- What does it Cost?
- Where does the Money come from?
- What does it “Really Cost?”
The following begins a long lesson in how our City Management has involved taxpayers in a very complex scheme for the McGregor City Industrial Park “without knowing all the associated costs.” It appears that the City’s attitude is, “Taxpayers don’t need to understand the costs because taxpayers will pay an exorbitant amount.” WHY? – because taxpayers will not know about it until it is too late. This is the way all Bureaucrats operate.
- ( This is my letter to Jimmy Hering ).
March 29, 2023
302 S Madison Ave
McGregor, Texas 76657
A while back, the City Manager displayed the location of the proposed City financed BNSF Railroad Spur. He stated, “According to the BNSF the location is the only possible location for the spur.” I have created the attached graphic that demonstrates the combined issues associated with that specific location. Taxpayers need a better understanding of the costs associated with the BNSF Railroad spur accessing the Knauf Insulation Plant. I have these questions for the City of McGregor – [Apparently, the City is the point of contact for the BNSF Railroad].
The Primary Issues and Questions Regarding the BNSF Railroad Spur and the Associated Costs
The information we require to make accurate assessments that support the need for this Railroad Spur.
- What are the projected costs for the Eminent Domain land to be purchased by the City of McGregor from the Bar V Holdings LLC? What is the estimated date of purchase completion?
- What are the topographic elevations between the existing BNSF Railroad and the Knauf Insulation Plant location? What is the calculated Railroad “percent slope” [railroad grade] and calculated earth “cut and fill” quantities?
- Where are the combined BNSF Railroad and Highway 317 Bridge Construction Plans and the associated cost from TxDOT? [This bridge will be a very complex structure and must be carefully engineered].
- Where are the plans and the costs for the BNSF Railroad required warning signal locations associated with crossing Highway 317? What are the linear length and associated cost for the portion of the Railroad Spur the City is obligated to construct and finance? What portion of the costs is Knauf Insulation responsible for?
- Will the City retain ownership of the Railroad Spur after completion and continue to be responsible for the ongoing maintenance? What are the projected annual maintenance costs?
- What are the TOTAL estimated construction and financing costs to the City of McGregor?
- What is the estimated Railroad Spur completion date?
Graphic depictions of the issues and associated questions for determining the actual Rail Spur “project costs” as described.
I trust you understand from my questions there are multiple expensive and unanswered issues associated with the proposed Knauf Railroad Spur location. 1) Compulsory purchase of land private land is always problematic, 2) The steepness of the required railroad grade exceeds railroad specifications, 3) The extremely expensive railroad and highway bridge is proposed to be built over and FEMA floodplain, 4) The elaborate at-grade railroad active warning and control devices will be very expensive, 5) The actual construction and ownership of the railroad spur to BNSF specifications will be tens of millions, 6) The ongoing Railroad Spur maintenance will be a tremendous ongoing expense – forever, and 7) The financing will take 30+ years to repay the millions of dollars in borrowed money.
The previous [contractual information] provided by the City lacks the required details for me or any agency representatives to make any accurate cost estimates. Taxpayer money is paying for a huge portion of this Industrial Development. City Government and associated agencies have a legal and moral duty to provide the best information available to Taxpayers before spending is initiated.
I am attempting to assure residents that their Tax Money is being invested wisely and the associated spending is displayed for all to evaluate. It is not in the best interests of Taxpayers to support any expenditure before having a clear understanding of the proposed cost and the associated risks.
I have contacted Jeanelle Davis – BNSF Railroad Human Resources for detailed information regarding the Railroad Spur location. Apparently, she will not give me the information without City’s permission. I have contacted TxDOT – reference # R024319-031923. I asked for information regarding the Railroad Spur Highway 317 crossing location. Their response – there are no responsive documents to myrequest.
I hope my Freedom of Information Requests are clear.
Let’s meet onsite – [you and other City officials] – to discuss these and other issues.
If you have questions let me know.
Stanley Swiatek – TxDOT Waco District Engineer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanelle Davis – BNSF Railroad Human Resources — Executive Director Public Affairs at BNSF Railway — email@example.com
Brian Birdwell – Texas State Senator – District 22
900 Austin Avenue Suite 500, Waco, Texas 76701 – 254-772-6225
Charles “Doc” Anderson – Texas State Representative – District 56
900 Austin Ave. Suite 804, Waco, TX 76701 – 254-754-3892
The McGregor Mirror
Letters to the Editor
311 S Main Street, McGregor, Texas 76657
As of April 16, 2023, TxDOT Waco District Engineer – Stan Swiatek is the first [and only] to respond to my freedom of information request. Texas Senator Brian Birdwell also acknowledged receiving my information. Either the City of McGregor does not have the information or they are ignoring my request for information.
Read what Mr. Swiatek says very carefully about TxDOT’s “Permit Requirements.”
- The word PERMITEE = The City of McGregor.
- Maintained in perpetuity = maintained forever.
- TxDOT wants to build a bridge over the rail spur. – [imagine the millions of dollars in cost and the traffic delays during construction].
- An out-of-town entity – the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) – “MIGHT – pay for the bridge.”
Here is Stan’s response documenting the goals and objectives of TxDOT.
I have received a copy of the letter you sent to Mayor Hering dated March 29,2023.
TxDOT’s involvement in the proposed rail spur is limited to two areas of responsibility:
Since the rail spur crosses SH-317 right of way, TxDOT would be responsible to permit the crossing and ensure that any future maintenance would be performed by the permittee. TxDOT would not incur any expense for the installation or maintenance of the crossing. The permit would stipulate that the spur be installed to TxDOT standards and maintained in perpetuity by the permittee.
Since at-grade crossings are less safe than a grade separation, TxDOT has requested that a bridge be installed over the spur. Current plans are to have the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) pay for the bridge using Category 2 funding which is subject to MPO Policy Board approval. This project is currently in the planning phase, however, TxDOT will not be executing the project until the spur is actually installed. Category 2 dollars are federal dollars set aside specifically for local MPOs to guide where they are to be spent to meet local needs. Should the project come to fruition as is currently planned, TxDOT would design and construct the Overpass using the funding set aside from the MPO.
Beyond these two areas of responsibility, TxDOT has no other stake in the RR spur installation being planned. If I can be of further assistance, please advise.