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Frisco Planning & Zoning Commission Approves Museum's Preliminary Site Plan

FRISCO, TX:  Frisco’s Planning & Zoning Commission approved the museum’s Preliminary Site Plan by a vote of 5-0.  The plan provides for three phases of construction over a 25-year period.  Phase I includes the initial trackage necessary to provide rail access to the 12.3 acre site (approximately 2,000 feet) along with nearly 3,400 feet of exhibit track to display the museum’s historic rolling stock collection.  Phase II, to be completed after a major capital campaign, provides for the museum’s permanent exhibits building, shop facilities, and additional trackage to allow for growth of the collection.  Phase III includes a locomotive roundhouse and turntable to service and display present and future acquisitions of vintage engines. 

Prepared by Lunsford Associates of Arlington, Texas, the Site Plan is a detailed engineering version of the museum’s Conceptual Design Plan created in 2009.  The Conceptual Plan, which took several months to complete, posed many engineering challenges.  Lunsford Associates, with the help of Wilson & Company of Fort Worth, was able to incorporate over one mile of trackage in the Frisco site while maintaining the museum’s requirement of no greater than 15 degrees of curvature on any given track.  This was necessary to accommodate several large pieces of preserved rolling stock, including the Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4018, the world’s largest steam locomotive and the Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 electric locomotive. 

The Preliminary Site Plan includes all three phases of museum trackage, the placement of permanent buildings, and all of the necessary utilities to accommodate the 25-year build-out of the facility.  Also included in the plan is the placement of two Texas Landmark structures currently at Fair Park:  the circa 1900 Houston & Texas Central Yard Office and the 1903 Santa Fe Interlocking Tower 19. 

The Plan also provides for an increase in elevation at the southern tier of the property in response to a FEMA-designated 100 year floodplain along Stewart Creek.  The museum’s tail track will be located in this area as well as an adjacent parcel to the west of the site, where an increase of 4-7 feet in the roadbed height will be required.  While this challenge has been surmounted from an engineering standpoint, the timetable and costs associated with Phase I of the museum’s project have increased significantly from the original 2007 projections.  Along with $1 million to be provided by the City of Frisco, the museum will raise the additional funds necessary to complete Phase I, now estimated at $3.5 million.  Construction is scheduled to begin in spring of 2010, with site preparation and elevation work being the first priority.

Situated along BNSF’s main line through Frisco, the Museum of the American Railroad’s new venue will become an exciting educational and entertainment destination in North Texas.  Over $300,000 of museum funds have been invested in concept, design, and engineering of the new site, along with the development of communication objectives, storylines, and educational programs for new exhibits. 

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