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Rail cars cleared from tracks in Acampo

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Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:00 am

Eastern Acampo residents who live adjacent to rarely used railroad tracks along Kennefick Road are glad that rail cars are no longer parked in front of their homes.

However, some residents said they got used to the parked rail cars, which remained on the tracks for about two years during the depth of the recession. Initially, residents were vocal in their complaints that the rail cars were an eyesore that would encourage crime, and invite transients to sleep in the cars.

However, during the approximately two years that the flat cars were parked from Woodbridge Road to Liberty Road, the transients didn’t appear as residents feared.

“They drew some graffiti,” Kennefick Road resident Ruth Brown said recently. “Some had objectionable language.”

Some 500 railroad cars were stored beginning in early 2009, causing residents to complain about what they saw as an eyesore and a potential increase in crime.

The rail cars were parked parallel to Kennefick Road for about two years because of the stagnant economy, according to officials from Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the rail cars, and Central California Traction, which owns the tracks.

If manufacturers weren’t selling their products, they had no need for freight trains to transport them, said Central California Traction General Manager Dave Buccolo and Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt.

“We continue to be cautiously optimistic about the ongoing (economic) recovery,” Hunt said in an email.

Brown recalls hearing the trains as they started being moved from her neighborhood in 2011. They were removed in groups of 40 or so, she said.

“It was always on a Friday night on Saturday,” Brown said. “We’d hear the engine ring. We were thrilled when we heard the cling, cling, cling of the engine, and he’d blow his horn. Well, the cling cling cling isn’t really right. It was more of a toot toot toot.”

Hunt, from Union Pacific, said that some rail cars were taken out of service and recycled, while others were put back into service.

Julie Delgado, who’s lived on Kennefick Road between Woodbridge and Acampo roads for about 12 years, is one person who was glad to see the rail cars disappear.

“I think it’s better,” Delgado said. “They covered the whole view. They were all old and dirty.”

Looking across the street from her driveway, Delgado said it’s nice to see animals and cherry trees now that the rail cars are gone.

Lorna Dickman, an 11-year resident on Kennefick Road north of Peltier Road, is more philosophical about the rail cars.

“At first I didn’t like it, but after a while, I got used to it,” Dickman said. “They had to store them somewhere; I figured it wasn’t a long-term thing.”

Buccolo added, “I think once it quieted down, it didn’t bother anyone else. I think there were just one or two people who were upset about it.”

Stockton-based Central California Traction provides freight service five days a week from Stockton to Pacific Coast Producers and other companies in Lodi’s industrial area east of Highway 99. The traction line also goes west to the Port of Stockton.

The company was originally a second streetcar line for Stockton in 1905. Electric passenger train service from Stockton to Lodi began in 1907 in competition with Southern Pacific Railroad. Three years later, the line reached Sacramento.

Buccolo doesn’t see the rail cars returning to Acampo.

“As long as the economy holds up and the lumber business holds up,” Buccolo said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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