Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Schumer: Expedite RRIF loan to Port of Oswego for rail upgrades

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) urged the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide a $1.5-million loan to the Port of Oswego in New York through its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program. The port would use this funding to upgrade rail along the docks.

"The Port of Oswego is gearing up for a boost in ship traffic and imports in valuable commodities, but the federal government holds the keys to unlocking the full potential of this trade hub in central New York," said Schumer. "The fact that the Port of Oswego's rail line, a critical link between the port and local supply chains, has been left to decay is unacceptable and the FRA should immediately provide funding to revamp this crucial one mile of rail."

The RRIF program was established by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 and amended by the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. The RRIF program authorizes the FRA administrator to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35 billion to improve railroad infrastructure.

The rail along the docks at the port has been in place since 1963 and has not undergone any major rehabilitation since that time. Schumer says the rail has deteriorated to the point where CSX has, at times, shut down activity and rail at the north end is out of alignment, which causes derailments on a consistent basis. He says the port has eight switches on site, none of which work properly. Schumer also says continued deterioration of the rail could force closure of rail service and reduce the port's appeal to potential users and new business interested in locating in central New York.

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