HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced the investment of $20 million to help seven railroads and five businesses undergo rail-freight improvement projects, stimulate economic development and reduce traffic congestion.
Among those receiving grants was Sunnyside Ethanol LLC. Sunnyside received $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.
“The grant will go toward building new track, containment areas and loading and unloading facilities at the ethanol plant,” said state Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 Houtzdale. “The money also will be used to rehabilitate existing track to handle incoming shipments of raw materials and outbound ethanol.”
“Dependable rail service helps businesses expand their markets, and this investment will help create and maintain jobs in communities throughout the commonwealth,” 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 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. 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.