Thursday, August 13, 2009

Decision on Huron Central expected August 13

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An announcement will be made August 13 as to whether a deal has been inked between Huron Central Rail and its stakeholders to keep the rail line operational for at least another year, the Sault Star reports. Meetings have been taking place throughout the week with those stakeholders, including large users Essar Steel Algoma and Domtar, the provincial and federal governments, municipalities, and the rail line.

 

Joe Fratesi, the city's CAO, who chairs a committee to broker a deal between Huron Central Railway and the interested parties, said he's "encouraged" by the continuing meetings.

 

"This all needs to be pulled together by the end of the day Thursday," Fratesi said. "Huron Central Rail has made it clear that there will be no extension of the deadline that has been set and unless a deal is reached that it's comfortable with and concludes before the 15th, all things set in motion to stop the line will continue."

 

Mayor John Rowswell said the federal government has sweetened the pot with an offer to consider "at great speed," a $1.5-million application to FedNor to contributed to a short-term fix for the Sault-to-Sudbury line.

 

MPP David Orazietti said earlier this week the province would be "supportive of considering short-term financing," for the ailing railway to the tune of "several million" dollars.

 

"Now, it's a matter of city council saving the day," said Rowswell.

 

The mayor said council will be asked tonight to temporarily "backstop," a total of $3 million in pending federal and provincial funds, so that work on the railroad can begin "now, this summer, this fall."

 

Council has called a special meeting for 4:30 p. m.

 

"There are implications for many communities if the railway shuts down, but (there are) more immediate and larger ones for Sault Ste. Marie and its industries," Fratesi said.

 

Rowswell said saving the rail line is crucial to the city's future, including the its ambition to turn itself into a multi-modal transportation hub.

Joe Fratesi, the city's CAO, who chairs a committee to broker a deal between Huron Central Railway and the interested parties, said he's "encouraged" by the continuing meetings.

 

"This all needs to be pulled together by the end of the day Thursday," Fratesi said. "Huron Central Rail has made it clear that there will be no extension of the deadline that has been set and unless a deal is reached that it's comfortable with and concludes before the 15th, all things set in motion to stop the line will continue."

 

Mayor John Rowswell said the federal government has sweetened the pot with an offer to consider "at great speed," a $1.5-million application to FedNor to contributed to a short-term fix for the Sault-to-Sudbury line.

 

MPP David Orazietti said earlier this week the province would be "supportive of considering short-term financing," for the ailing railway to the tune of "several million" dollars.

 

"Now, it's a matter of city council saving the day," said Rowswell.

 

The mayor said council will be asked tonight to temporarily "backstop," a total of $3 million in pending federal and provincial funds, so that work on the railroad can begin "now, this summer, this fall."

 

Council has called a special meeting for 4:30 p. m.

 

"There are implications for many communities if the railway shuts down, but (there are) more immediate and larger ones for Sault Ste. Marie and its industries," Fratesi said.

 

Rowswell said saving the rail line is crucial to the city's future, including the its ambition to turn itself into a multi-modal transportation hub.

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