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Making Tracks

By Pattison Sand Company 25 February, 2016

As construction nears completion, WSOR’s new sand loading facility in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin shines as an example of what can be accomplished when we combine our Watco Customer First Foundation Principles with persistence and teamwork. The pro- ject entailed the construction of a 105-car industry yard, a switching lead, and a sand loading building. The 96 foot high facility can unload sand from a truck in under four minutes and easily load 100 tons of sand into a railcar in under seven minutes. Both unload- ing and loading is done indoors. Our Customer, Pattison Sand Company who leases and operates the facility, expects to ship over 5000 carloads of sand annually, most of which will be in 100 car unit trains destined to the oil and gas industry.

As impressive as the new, efficient and higher capacity facility may be, we need to truly celebrate the equally impressive and creative teamwork demonstrated by many WSOR, Watco and Pattison Sand Company team members. Our team put our Foundation Princi- ples into action to address the needs and concerns of many external and internal Customers to successfully complete the construc- tion of this facility.

The team faced and overcame numerous obstacles during the 2½ years this project took to complete. The team considered 14 differ- ent sites along WSOR’s main line that runs between high bluffs and the Wisconsin River, thru the backwaters of the Mississippi River and terminates in the City of Prairie Du Chien on St. Feriole Island. The bluffs and water posed difficulties for other sites, building height restrictions created by a nearby airport prevented some, and still others could only be accessed by using another railroad’s property. Even the best site challenged the Watco engineering team’s creativity because it is sandwiched between another railroad’s track, a bridge to the island, the Mississippi River, and a state highway. To complicate matters, our narrow right of way had adjacent land owners that opposed to the project.

Selecting the site location was just the beginning of many challenges the team would face. The WSOR team and our Customer listened and found solutions to address various community and governmental concerns. The design enclosed the unloading and loading within facility, installed a larger dust collection equipment and located the ladder track away from neighboring homes to address neighbors’ concerns about air quality and noise from loading and train operations. In response to City leaders’ concerns, the ladder track capacity was maximized to assemble the unit trains in order to reduce switching on St. Feriole Island, (which is the center of the City’s tourism economy due to its recreational use and historical significance). The team also acquired land and purchased wetland mitigation credits to address State and Federal agencies concern over the project’s environmental impact resulting from its location in a Mississippi River flood plain and to reduce the wetland area impacted by the construction of the ladder track. This also enabled the facility to be placed on the only area of the site that was not in the flood plain. In order to minimize truck traffic on the roadways, the team coordinated with the City and State to vacate a street and place the entrance to the facility at the only break in the adjacent divided state highway. All of these challenges took time to resolve and required patience from both Watco and Pattison Sand. Our purchasing and construction team worked with our vendors to lessen the effect of these delays on their businesses including creating a storage area for large pieces of equipment at the vendor’s fabrication facility.

As each train leaves our Customer, our team can smile knowing the train stands as a testament to what we can accomplish when we place our Customers first, work hard, act as team. When we have a commitment to persevere we can overcome challenges to do the right thing for our Customers and the communities we serve.

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 12:50
Pattison Sand Company

The Pattison family has more than a 60-year history of contributing to their community and providing jobs and economic stability to the people of the region.

Today, Pattison Sand Company operates in Clayton, IA about 13 miles south of Prairie du Chien, WI on the banks of the Mississippi River. We employ upwards of 300 people. Pattison leads the charge towards American Energy Independence by producing industrial sand for the natural gas and oil industries. Pattison mines this sand from the St. Peter sandstone layer in both underground and surface mines.

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About Pattison

The Pattison family has, for their entire 60-year history, consistently proven their commitment to their customers, employees, their community and the environment.

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Pattison Sand Company, LLC
701 1st Street
Clayton, IA 52049
  (563) 964-2860
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