HARRISBURG, Pa. — The state of Pennsylvania is investing $20 million in taxpayer money to help seven railroads and five businesses undergo rail-freight improvement projects, stimulate economic development and reduce traffic congestion.
“Dependable rail service helps businesses expand their markets, and this investment will help create and maintain jobs in communities throughout the commonwealth,” Gov. Edward G. Rendell said. “Moving products by rail also lowers the number of trucks on the roadways, which in turn reduces the wear and tear on our state’s highways, relieves traffic congestion, and improves air quality.”
The State Transportation Commission approved the grants.
Several of the grants are for projects that will provide local businesses with connections to rail lines. One project of this type, for example, is the investment in United States Gypsum’s proposal to construct 10 industrial tracks at its new wallboard manufacturing facility in Washingtonville. The tracks will be used to deliver incoming raw materials and to ship outbound products.
The investment will also benefit railroad companies by providing funding for improvements such as track rehabilitation, bridge repair, and connections between rail lines, officials said. For example, the Allegheny Valley Railroad Company received a grant to rehabilitate three railroad bridges, including the replacement of bridge timbers on the 4,265-foot Allegheny River Bridge.
The grants are administered by PennDOT’s Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports & Waterways. Pennsylvania leads the nation with more than 65 operating railroads and ranks fifth in the nation with more than 6,000 track miles. More than 7,500 Pennsylvanians are employed by freight railroads.
— Allegheny Valley Railroad Company will receive $1,021,667 for the rehabilitation of three bridges, including replacement of bridge timbers on the strategic 4,265-foot Allegheny River Bridge.
— Pittsburgh and Ohio Central Railroad Inc. will receive $2.24 million for track rehabilitation and bridge repairs which will result in increased safety in the handling of hazardous materials being transported to chemical facilities in the area.
— CSX Transportation Inc. will receive $3.33 million to improve overheard clearances at 16 locations so double-stack trains carrying containers can transport freight to and from the City of Philadelphia.
— Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad Co. will receive $2.5 million for the construction of the Nesquehoning Bridge over the Lehigh River outside of Jim Thorpe. The bridge will complete the connection between the railroad company’s Lehigh division and the Carbon & Schuylkill branch.
— Sunnyside Ethanol LLC will receive $1.25 million for track rehabilitation and construction to serve the new Sunnyside Ethanol facility in Curwensville. Rail infrastructure is needed for the transportation of corn and soy used in ethanol production.
— Renovo Rail Industries, a start-up railcar repair operation, will receive $630,000 for rail upgrades to its facility.
— Greater Erie Industrial Development Corporation will receive $840,000 for construction and rehabilitation of track to serve the industrial park at the former International Paper site, including extending track to connect the east and west sides of the industrial park.
— Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad Inc. will receive $2.24 million for continued track rehabilitation to handle transformer and coal shipments to the Homer City Power Station.
— SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority will receive $1.5 million for track rehabilitation for the intermodal facility of the Lycoming Valley Railroad at the Newberry Yard and for construction of a comprehensive bulk-transfer facility for food products, plastics, and other commodities.
— SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority will receive $1.33 million for track rehabilitation and construction on the Juniata Valley Railroad’s West Park Track to serve the new First Quarterly Enterprises plant in the Mifflin County Industrial Park.
— United States Gypsum will receive $2.1 million for construction of an industrial rail yard adjacent to the PPL power plant for receiving raw materials and shipping outbound Sheetrock brand products at USG’s new wallboard manufacturing facility in Washingtonville.
— Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation will receive $1 million for the removal and reconstruction of the long siding at Radebaugh on the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad to allow for improved rail storage and interchange with Norfolk Southern Railroad.