There is a big hoopla going on in southern Grayson County, Texas, over a proposed Burlington Northern San Francisco (BNSF) Railway 900 to 950-acre logistics center near Gunter. BNSF operates a railroad network of 32,500 route miles in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. Gunter, Texas, residents do not want a “train yard” in their backyard.

A tornado and a railroad established Gunter, Texas. The tornado cleared the land for the town site of Gunter in 1896, and the railroad brought prosperity to the farming and ranching region in Grayson County beginning in 1901. BNSF and all transportation/supply chain companies operate logistics centers. 

Logistic centers are organization facilities that distribute goods all over the world. BNSF currently has five logistics centers in Fontana, CA, Hudson, CO, Oklahoma City, OK, Cleveland, TX, and Sweetwater, TX. BNSF also owns logistic parks and intermodal facilities all over the U.S., which operate in conjunction with each other.

Logistics centers are a crucial part of how transportation industries get our agricultural, consumer, and industrial products to our stores and warehouses. In 2023, the largest train yard under BSNF is in Kansas City, Kansas, the Argentine Yard, which handles merchandise traffic. It sits on 780 acres. The yard BNSF wants to build in and outside of Gunter is proposed at 900 or over 900 acres.

BNSF in Gunter, Texas

BNSF bought this property with a small portion of it within Gunter city limits proper, and the rest of it is in Grayson County. BNSF wants to rezone its property inside the Gunter city limits to heavy industrial use. Texas is a “Private Property Rights” state. This means BNSF can develop the BNSF property that lies in Grayson County anyway they want. 

In June 2023, BNSF announced a two-year plan to build a facility with direct-rail service in a multi-customer, multi-commodity business park near Gunter. BNSF planned to invest directly in the development of this facility to create sites in under-served, strategic, and primarily end-user markets.

By the end of July 2023, BNSF withdrew their application to rezone and annex their property in Gunter after heated community opposition in a special joint Gunter City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. This issue created a local news splash in June and July.

In late July, BNSF reported, “BNSF has decided to take time to further consider how we will orient and construct this facility.” Although the Gunter residents were able to fight the zoning change within Gunter, BNSF has not announced further plans for its Grayson County property. 

Grayson County Commissioners Phyllis James (Precinct 3) and James Whitmire (Precinct 1) spoke at a Gunter City Council meeting on September 21, 2023. The commissioners told the Gunter residents that there is nothing they can do about the plans for a rail yard in Grayson County.

BNSF train on track at crossroads in middle America

Grayson County Developments

BNSF is not the only entity that will be part of development in that area of Grayson County. Hilda Berg, a global aggregate company, bought 150 acres just eight miles north of Gunter in Dorchester, Texas, and plans to build a railroad circle in there to rail rock in and to truck rock out. 

Black Mountain Cement also bought property near Dorchester to build a cement kiln and limestone quarry. Black Mountain reports this plant will “Address a future supply gap for high quality, sustainable cement in North Texas.” In September, Commissioner James told Gunter residents that the cement plant also poses environmental concerns, and that traffic is another concern. 

In a statement to several media outlets, BNSF officials stated, “We appreciate the city of Gunter for their continued efforts to work with our company, and look forward to further developing this site in a way that is mutually beneficial to the community and our customers.” This statement implies, along with the continuation of the Hilda Berg and Black Mountain developments, that BNSF will build their logistics center near Gunter. 

The Grayson County Commissioners Court began opposing the Black Mountain cement plant in 2021, and hired consultant attorneys to assist in the process. But as of November 2023, Black Mountain’s application for a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is still pending. 

In 2021, then and current Sherman mayor, David Plyler, said that Black Mountain’s cement plant would interfere with the area’s aim of attracting high-tech industry and investment. District court judge Bill Magers reported, “The county doesn’t normally step into fight city battles, but the county feels that the proposed plant would be bad for the county overall.”

As of Oct 2023, after a two-hour-plus executive session, the Gunter City Council announced that the mayor and council members will nominate a BNSF advisory committee. While none of the involved parties have announced anything of importance to the media recently, it appears that these operations will eventually be in business. 

To give an idea of how the BSNF logistics center will impact Gunter and North Central Texas, here is the scope of what BNSF transported throughout its network of rail lines in 2022:

Agricultural Products 

  • In 2022, BNSF hauled 1.2 million carloads of agricultural commodities. 
  • BNSF moves enough grain to supply 730 million people with a year’s supply of bread. 
  • BNSF transports enough sugar in a year to bake more than 12 billion dozen cookies. 

Consumer Products 

  • In 2022, 5.04 million intermodal shipments (truck trailers or containers) were transported on BNSF’s rail lines instead of on the nation’s congested highways. 
  • BNSF moves 2.5M [million] new cars and trucks per year, or 5 per minute. 
  • BNSF and our carrier partners move up to 2 million pounds of fresh produce in a single day. 

Industrial Products 

  • In 2022, BNSF hauled 3.1 million carloads of industrial products. 
  • BNSF moves enough lumber each year to frame 320K houses.
  • In 2022, BNSF hauled 1.5 million coal shipments. 
  • One shipment of coal can power 19 homes for an entire year.

BNSF choose the site near Gunter in Grayson County because of its accessibility to its intermodal line running through the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There is no argument that a BNSF logistics center will bring economic growth and jobs to whatever communities and towns are near it, nor one that thousands of commercial vehicles will also flood their roads and highways. 

Kendall Davis
Author: Kendall Davis

Author: Kendall Davis Company: Lumini Services Kendall currently lives on the shores of Lake Texoma in Texas. She traveled across two-thirds of the U.S. for many years camping at lakes, rivers, and three oceans before motels and hotels if at all possible, and she continuously saw God's presence in nature. Writing for Lakehub allows Kendall to share her experience with God's creations.

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