HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today announced the investment of $20 million to help 11 railroads and 10 businesses undergo rail-freight improvement projects, stimulate economic development and reduce traffic congestion.
“This investment in rail freight will have a positive impact on our overall transportation system,” Rendell said. “By moving more products on rail, we are reducing the number of trucks on our highways. This will lessen congestion and wear and tear on our roads. The grants will also be an economic generator that will help create new jobs and keep others.”
Rendell, recognizing the importance of rail infrastructure to the state’s economy, has more than doubled the funding for the Capital Budget and Rail Freight Assistance Programs since he took office, from $4.25 million in 2003-04 to $10.5 million in this fiscal year. Through the capital budget investment in these projects, 1,290 jobs will be created, 13,003 jobs will be maintained and required truck trips will be reduced by 589,797 annually.
Several of the grants are for projects that will provide businesses with connections to rail lines. One example is the investment in the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corporation’s proposal to redevelop rail infrastructure on the former International Paper brownfield site. The new track at this site will connect a biodiesel company with the CSX mainline.
Another key investment in rail infrastructure improves the traffic and connection between rail lines. The Allegheny Valley Railroad Company received a grant to rehabilitate track in Allegheny and Washington counties to support traffic, which will be generated by the New Bruceton Connection. The connection will link the Allegheny Valley Railroad with CSX, Wheeling & Lake Erie and B&P railroads. This will provide shippers in western Pennsylvania with access to markets in the Midwest.
The grants are administered by PennDOT’s Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports & Waterways. Pennsylvania leads the nation with 65 operating railroads and ranks fifth in the nation with over 5,000 track miles.
In Clearfield County, River Hill Coal Co., Inc. will receive $500,000 for the rebuilding of track and construction of two switches at a siding that connects to the RJ Corman Railroad’s track at LaJose, which will allow coal to be shipped by rail instead of trucked. It will help create 40 jobs, maintain 80 jobs and reduce the number of truck trips by 36,000 trips per year. River Hill is building a power plant in Karthaus.