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Monday, April 19, 2010

Southern Ohio rail re-hab project gets the go-ahead

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A railroad lifeline to hundreds of jobs in Jackson, Vinton and Ross counties in Ohio will be made stronger as a project to improve service, reliability and safety on the City of Jackson-owned line that got the official notice to proceed from the Ohio Rail Development Commission. The notice to proceed has been sent to city officials.

The City of Jackson acquired the approximately 60 miles of the "Jackson Line" in two transactions in 1987 and 1990. Nine firms employing 500 people and a new firm employing 30 people are dependent on rail service on the line.

Additionally there is an industrial park with approximately 200 acres of shovel-ready, industrially-zoned land along the Jackson line in Jackson, as well as 250 acres of industrial land that needs further development between Jackson and Oak Hill. Further, the recently-vacated Meridian building, a 265,000-sq.-ft. facility built in 1966, is available for redevelopment.

"This improvement to our system is critical in our efforts to ensure the rail line's viability for years to come", says Jackson Mayor Randy Heath. Mayor heath went on to say, "Our rail line is a vital component in our efforts to market these counties and their economic development potential. Our ability to gain this money through the Ohio Rail Development Commission is a huge plus for all of southern Ohio."

The project will involve replacement of old crossties, installation of new track ballast, realigning the rails and replacement of rail on curves along the line. All of these improvements will serve to better enable U.S. Rail, the contracted operator of the rail line, to provide more reliable, safe and timely service to current and future customers. The ORDC has previously assisted in helping to fund repairs and improvements, including (most recently) critical repairs to a key tunnel on the rail line.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is a state commission whose mission is to plan, promote, and implement the improved movement of goods and people faster and safer on a rail transportation network connecting Ohio to the nation and the world.  The ORDC assists with economic development funding by partnering with local governments, railroads, private businesses and other state agencies on freight, safety and passenger projects.

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