The Surface Transportation Board announced Monday that it had authorized 135-mile Arizona Eastern Railway to construct a 12.1-mile, single-track line to serve Phelps Dodge Mining Company mines in Safford, Ariz., as well as the Safford Regional Airport and a contemplated industrial park adjoining the airport. The board's approval is subject to certain environmental mitigation measures.
The Arizona Eastern is a Class III short line controlled by Iowa Pacific Holdings, Inc. AZER’s operations currently extend between Union Pacific’s Sunset Route at Bowie and the end of the line at Miami, Ariz. The new line would diverge from the existing AZER line east of Safford, Ariz., cross the Gila River on a new 500-foot bridge, pass the Safford airport industrial park site and end at a new Phelps Dodge Mining Company copper mine complex.
The new line is expected to operate one round trip a day consisting of 20 to 25 cars hauled by two locomotives. Inbound traffic would consist of tank cars carrying sulfuric acid from a processing plant at Miami to the Safford mine; the return trip would consist of empty and outbound tank card and copper cathodes.