Mar 16, 2014

Rural Arizona gets $3 million to prevent floods

Flood control may not be the hottest topic in Washington, D.C.

But to Arizonans in the path of potential destruction, the nearly $3 million that U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Paul ­Gosar helped secure in the president's budget to protect communities is big news.

The projects receiving partial funding would prevent damage to homes and farms in northern and central Arizona, as well as vulnerable rail lines, highways and even Northern Arizona University, if major rain storms or erosion from a forest fire caused rivers to overflow in what planners refer to as a 100-year flood.

Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, and Gosar, a Republican — one-time campaign rivals turned ­allies on rural issues — urged the administration to fund ­projects in Flagstaff and near Casa Grande. Both are in ­Kirkpatrick's far-flung district, where Gosar used to serve ­before he switched to a neighboring seat. Kirkpatrick also advocated for a third project in her district in Winslow.

"We've seen some devastating floods in our community," said Maricopa Vice Mayor Edward Farrell, whose family has lived in the area for four generations. "In 1983, my senior year of high school, (the Lower Santa Cruz River) came through and flooded our whole community four feet deep. ... That night we were rescuing people off the roofs of their houses. ... We were out of school for two weeks, cleaning all the silt out of the classrooms and the books."

Farrell said Gosar and Kirkpatrick have been "true champions" on flood-control issues.

"They both have been out here, and they've taken tours personally to try to understand," he said. "That goes a long way."

Kirkpatrick is sure to tout the projects this year as she campaigns in a tough race for a third term.

Bringing home the bacon for local projects often helps to win over voters in her rural, swing district.

Here's a look at the plans:

• Flagstaff: Rio de Flag runs through the city. If it overflowed, the river could inundate up to half of Flagstaff's population, including the NAU campus, Route 66 and a rail line, causing tens of millions of ­dollars in damage, according to a study by the Army Corps of Engineers.

A major flood-control project, estimated to need an additional $50 million, is under way. The president's 2015 budget would provide $1.6 million to fix a retention basin, about half the amount Gosar and Kirkpatrick asked for in a letter last month to the Corps.

Local leaders, including Flagstaff Mayor Jerry ­Nabours, praised the representatives for continuing to push for money despite budget austerity in Washington.

"Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has relentlessly pursued funding for the Rio de Flag ... without her support, this project may not have received funding," Nabours said in a written statement. "We are thankful that Congressman Gosar's continued efforts have once again yielded funding for this important project. He understands that investment in this project could yield almost a billion dollars in economic development, eliminate the flood plain and save residents costly flood insurance premiums."

• Central Arizona: The Lower Santa Cruz River on the surface appears dry in many places. But an unusually large monsoon storm could produce a deluge that crests its banks and flows into newly built neighborhoods in cities such as Maricopa and Casa Grande and on three American Indian reservations. A flood in 1983 put schools and farms in Maricopa underwater for days, and some farmland remains unusable, its topsoil buried in river silt.

Since that time, development has exploded, leaving more homes in danger.

For the first time, the president's budget would add the Santa Cruz watershed to the list of official Army Corps of Engineers projects. It would also provide $300,000 for two phases of a study, the first steps in the project. Kirkpatrick wrote directly to the president to ask for his support for the project, noting that the congressional earmark ban keeps lawmakers from including such funding in the budget on their own.

Mark Killian, chairman of the Lower Santa Cruz River ­Alliance, said Gosar and Kirkpatrick moved the project ­forward, after years of work by stakeholders to make it a Corps priority.

"The Lower Santa Cruz River has a history of disastrous flooding during major storms," Killian said in a written statement. "This allocation will help protect farms, housing, communities, businesses and infrastructure across our region."

• Winslow: The Little Colorado River runs in northern Arizona, not far from Navajo and Hopi homes and businesses near Winslow, as well as key commercial shipping routes by rail and on Interstate 40.

The population that would be affected by a flood is smaller than in other places.

But Kirkpatrick argued to the Corps in a letter in December that the loss of a home is devastating to a homeowner in any location. And she noted that some of the tribal homeowners were relocated to the floodplain almost 40 years ago by the federal government itself.

The president's budget would set aside $750,000 to study a levee. While funding for Rio de Flag and Lower Santa Cruz is finalized, the Little Colorado portion must be approved by Congress during the budget process. However, the project is unlikely to face opposition.

Jesse Thompson, chairman of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors, said in a written statement that the project would be "critical" to protecting the lives and property of businesses and residents in Winslow.

Cable calls to speed up HS2 links to North

Mr Cable argued the rail link should be sped up to bring properity to Northern cities PA
Sonia Elks
Last updated at 4:19AM, March 16 2014

The Business Secretary Vince Cable has said there is a “compelling case” to pull forward construction on the controversial HS2 rail line to the North so as to rebalance the British economy.

The Lib Dem minister’s intervention came on the eve of a report that by Sir David Higgins, the new chairman of the high speed rail project, which will outline plans for an accelerated construction timetable to the North while reducing the cost of the £50 billion infrastructure project.

Scale up transport infra investment to achieve 7% growth: Report

NEW DELHI: India needs to scale up investment in transport infrastructure projects from around Rs 4 lakh crore per annum at present to Rs 14 lakh crore by 2032 to achieve over 7 per cent economic growth, according to a report.

The National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) report says the country needs to increase investment in transport infrastructure like rail, highways, port and airport to Rs 70 lakh crore level in 15th Five Year Plan (2027-32) from Rs 19 lakh crore.

Full speed ahead: McDougals make move toward downtown railway

As master developers, the McDougals have made progress in revitalizing downtown, but they are now moving at full speed to the next stop in their plans.

A railway connecting Texas Tech to downtown could be financially out of reach for Lubbock, but it could also be a step toward revitalizing the heart of the city — and the downtown master developer is spending nearly $17,000 to find out which it is.

The total project will likely cost millions of dollars, so the McDougals and Tech Chancellor Kent Hance are setting their sights on Washington, D.C., to help with the funding.

Using a major chunk of the $25,000 reimbursement funds allocated to the downtown master developer, McDougal Cos. hired a Dallas-based communication strategy firm to put presentations together for federal lobbyists in hopes of securing a grant to help fund the project.

“We had gone as far as we could go with what we had,” said Marc McDougal, president of McDougal Real Estate. “We needed to get a professional package put together that we could take to Washington to see what types of funding opportunities are out there that we can get.”

The firm, Public Information Associates, has experience assisting in multiple transportation deals, including the TEX Rail in Fort Worth, according to information provided by the company.

Multiple grants are available at the federal level, and McDougal said he plans to track down every possible funding opportunity rather than turning to local tax dollars.

“I haven’t committed the city to a penny on this; the city hasn’t committed to a penny on this,” he said. “There are other avenues to get money other than the federal government, and that’s what we are looking into. There is absolutely zero commitment from anybody financially, other than, obviously, the money (spent to hire the firm) and some travel for somebody to go to Washington.”

Hance said it may be possible for the university to financially participate as well, although it would likely be on a comparatively small scale.

“We’d look at it, but it would be very limited on Tech campus, but we might do something," he said. "But it would be limited compared to the overall plan."

The total cost of hiring the firm was $16,740 and the result is meant to develop an informational stakeholder outreach presentation to garner legislative, federal, state and local support for the project, according to the contract agreement.

Before finalizing the deal, McDougal presented the idea to the committee overseeing downtown’s tax increment financing to make sure everyone was on board, although he technically didn’t have to because the money used would come out of the reimbursement fund.

The goal of the railway project is to link Tech students to the cultural district and ultimately bring a youthful presence back to downtown. In combination with the rail system, McDougal said plans for student housing are also in the works.

“In my opinion, with the growth we’re having, I think you’d have (3,000) to 5,000 people living downtown,” Hance said. “If that happens, you have solved your problems of vacant lots.”

When the City Council gave master downtown developer Delbert McDougal a five-year extension in December to continue his work, the contract laid out several goals for McDougal to achieve in downtown development, including increasing Tech’s presence in the district.

What Delbert McDougal envisions, he previously told A-J Media, is bold and optimistic but not out of reach and includes student housing and accommodations for several thousand people living downtown.

“You’re obviously going to see new apartments starting; you’ll see new shopping centers and restaurants,” Delbert McDougal said in December.

It would also include transportation, which Delbert McDougal says he envisions in the form of the rail system.

“It’s a very sizeable deal, but it’s certainly something that’s very reachable,” he said.

Monorail vs. light rail

The new transportation system has been referred to as a monorail even in official documents, but the actual system will likely be more of a combination of a monorail system and a light rail system, Marc McDougal said.

As the name suggests, a monorail runs on a single rail and electric system can reach speeds of faster than 300 mph, according to information provided by the Monorail Society. This type of system sits on pillars above traffic and is the more expensive option.

The initial estimate for this type of railway was more than the McDougals thought was realistic, so the company looked for cheaper options and found light rail. This system is more like a train, running on twin rails at ground level.

Lubbock’s railway would likely run above the streets but on a system more similar to the light rail, Marc McDougal said.

The train to Tobin, Texas: Developer brought passenger rail car to ferry buyers to land near Fort Bliss

A photo of a train car from about 1913. According to the original caption, the steam-powered car was "used prior to first World War, between Fort Bliss and the newly developed townsite of Tobin, Texas, four miles north of Post near old El Paso & Northeastern (now So Pac) railway tracks (area east of 'Sunrise Acres')." (Times-Blumenthal Collection)

In 1956, The El Paso Times held a weekly photo contest in which they ran a photo from the Times-Blumenthal Collection and asked readers to write in with any information they had about the photo. The author of the winning letter would receive $10.

On Jan. 30, 1956, the Times ran a photo with this request for information:

"When El Paso real estate promoter Jack Tobin did things, he did them up brown.

"One of his streetcars, complete with balloon-stacked built-in steam engine, is the subject of The Times' third weekly Historical Photo Contest.

"Where did the car take its passengers? Where did it leave from in the downtown area? When did it run?

"Oldtimers are sure to come up with some good letters on this one, and the best letter, as usual, will be worth $10 to the writer.

"Aboard the car in the picture are a man in overalls, probably the engineer; a man in a hard, flat straw hat and others.

"Another straw-sporting gent is about to mount the steps at the front of the unique machine while a comely woman has paused above the cow-catcher to pose for the camera.

"Contestants who knew persons who worked on the old line, or are familiar with Tobin's subdivision plans, are urged to come up with entries."

The winning entry was announced Feb. 5, 1956:

"Mrs. C.B. McKemy, 1301 N. Kansas St., submitted the winning letter in the latest El Paso Times Historical Picture Contest.

"Mrs. McKemy is a daughter of Frank R. Tobin, pioneer promoter and real estate developer who laid out the town of Tobin, Texas, and built the interurban line which used the pictured steam locomotive.

"Tobin and Frank B. Hadlock, 74, who lives in the Upper Valley, were associated in the unsuccessful enterprise which is remembered as Tobin, Texas.

"Feeling El Paso was situated too close to the Rio Grande for proper growth, Tobin, who came to El Paso in 1905, promoted the town of Tobin four miles northeast of Fort Bliss along the old El Paso and Northeastern Railroad tracks.

"Hadlock, who graciously furnished memories of the undertaking to The Times, recalls the idea was well-founded because floods periodically did great damage in El Paso prior to the building of Elephant Butte Dam (finished 1916).

"Hadlock, now in the oil producing business, recalls flood waters in the lobby of the old Sheldon Hotel (destroyed by fire, 1929) on the site of the present Hilton Hotel.

"At any rate, Tobin and his associate bought a section of land on the EPNE (now the Southern Pacific Golden State Route) and subdivided it into lots. Residence lots sold for $10 and business locations for $50.
Special train

"To get the town off to a good start, Hadlock recalls, Tobin launched a big look-and-see campaign with free beer and sandwiches and rented a special train at a cost of $250 to bring prospective buyers to the new town. The railroad made a siding available.

"After the sendoff, a White Steamer (automobile) was imported and used to run the customers out from the end of the electric streetcar line at Fort Bliss.

"This was unsatisfactory, so Tobin went to his old home city of St. Louis and bought the pictured steam passenger rail car, then built a line of road from Fort Bliss to Tobin to haul passengers.

"He had to get permission from Washington authorities for a right-of-way on the reservation, Mrs. McKemy recalls.

"Despite the elaborate promotions, the development never caught on, Hadlock says, and no more than four or five houses were ever built.

"Mrs. McKemy prefers to think the development was cut short by Tobin's untimely and unexpected death in 1914.

"She identified the persons in the picture as including Mrs. Frank R. Tobin (woman on platform at end of car) and the late John D. Tobin (in hard straw hat preparing to mount the car). Mrs. Tobin died last year.
Named Jack Tobin

"The car was named the Jack Tobin for Frank Tobin's son, who now lives in Albuquerque, according to Mrs. McKemy. Fare from Tobin, Texas, through connections with the Electric Railway car at Fort Bliss, was a nickel a trip to any part of El Paso or Juarez.

"It was put in operation May 5, 1907.

"During the time he was working on the new town, known as 'El Paso's Queen Suburb,' Tobin also was developing down the valley.

"He promoted Tobin's First, Second, Third and Fourth Additions near Washington Park and started the old interurban line to Ysleta where he developed Cinecue, West Ysleta and Tobin's Ysleta Additions.

"He was living in Tobin's Fourth Addition to El Paso at the time of his death, Jan. 14, 1914. He died from complications following a severe cold he contracted on a trip to St. Louis on business.

"He was not yet 40 years old at the time of his death, but had great pieces of El Paso real estate and had made the Washington Park additions, according to his obituary in The Times, 'the residential showplaces of the city.'

"In addition to his El Paso activities, Tobin built the first skyscraper in St. Louis which was built by a private individual, said The Times of Jan. 15, 1914. It was nine stories tall."

Trish Long is the El Paso Times archivist. If you have a question about El Paso history, email her at

Coal India may miss output target by about 12 MT

The PSU's coal executives strike on March 13, too, caused an output loss to the tune of 4 lakh tonnes.
NEW DELHI: Battling on various fronts to boost production, the world's largest miner Coal India Ltd BSE -0.43 % may miss the target by about 12 million tonnes for the current fiscal as it struggles to achieve at least 470 MT. 

The state-owned firm had fixed a target of 482 MT for 2013-14 financial year ending March 31.

"As per estimates, we are likely to achieve an output of 470 MT for the fiscal as a number of factors have resulted in less output. We may miss the target by more than 10 MT," Coal India Chairman and Managing Director S Narsing Rao told PTI. 

Rao attributed the projected production loss to a number of factors, including delays in securing clearances to CILBSE -0.43 % projects, cyclone Phailin and problems in evacuation among others. 

"Production was hit by 5 MT due to cyclone Phailin. Besides, many of our projects are delayed due to regulatory hurdles including forest clearances. There are law and order issues also, and in July and August the demand was less from consumers and we cannot store coal at open case mines," Rao said. 

The PSU's coal executives strike on March 13, too, caused an output loss to the tune of 4 lakh tonnes. 

Rao also cited infrastructure problems saying the "there is virtually no significant progress" in the critical rail links due to which the company was unable to tap the potential for supplying 300 MT. 

"The company has a potential to supply 300 MT of additional coal from some of the collieries but these lack crucial rail infrastructure for transporting it," he reiterated. 

"Under the circumstances, we are in a position to increase our annual growth to only 30 MT for the next few years," he said. 

If three rail links are fast-tracked, the company will ensure 300 MT additional supply to consumers. 

Three rail corridors are: Tori-Shivpuri-Kathotia in North Karanpura, Jharkhand; Bhupdeopur-Korichhaapar to Mand Raigadh mines in Chhattisgarh; and Barpali-Jharsuguda in IB Valley, Odisha, which are under different phases of development. 

A high-level inter-ministerial committee constituted by the Prime Minister's Office is looking into the issue of faster implementation of critical railway projects in potential coalfields. 

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure had also agreed to monitor the progress of the three rail links critical for transporting coal from CIL mines located in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. 

As per the information, the difficulties being faced in executing these three projects, entailing Rs 7,500 crore expenditure, relate to forestry and environment clearances besides land acquisition, rehabilitation/resettlement as well as law and order problems.





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