In February, OTA began working with parties interested in the Stewartstown Railroad, a privately owned five-mile branch line located in York, Pennsylvania. This crucial, yet out-of-service, transportation link has served York County, one of the Commonwealth's thriving manufacturing, industrial and warehouse centers, since 1885. It connects to the larger Northern Central Railroad, a 20-mile line owned by York County, which is also out of service. Revitalizing the Stewartstown line will ultimately protect and build upon York's standing as a source for employment and economic opportunity. However, resurrecting the line is completely dependent on the restoration of the Northern Central line. Working closely with stakeholders, OTA is currently conducting preliminary research to develop an economic development and environmental policy case for reinstituting service on these rail lines.
Also in Pennsylvania, OTA is providing consulting services to the Susquehanna Rail Authority and Bradford County to evaluate the potential for a truck-to-rail transload facility to serve Marcellus Shale construction and related projects in the region.
Through its model state freight transportation business plan for improving freight transportation productivity and efficiency, OnTrackPennsylvania, OTA continues to develop and implement strategic business plans for freight transportation throughout the Commonwealth, with the goal of maximizing all transportation modes to strengthen commerce, attract and keep jobs, preserve the environment and deliver higher returns on transportation investment. Founder and President Michael Sussman recently met with the County Planning Directors Association of Pennsylvania to present OTA's agenda and indentify ways in which county planning departments can get involved.
At the same time, OTA continues to develop its Freight Transportation Land Use Strategy throughout Pennsylvania. Recent developments include meetings with state officials to advance legislation to be introduced later this year. In March, Sussman will travel to the United Kingdom, where he will meet with Lord Tony Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group and President of the European Rail Freight Association, to study land use and planning as they pertain to British and European freight rail transportation.