The Ohio Rail Development Commission (Rail Commission) on May 11 approved a grant of up to $750,000 to Columbus & Ohio River Rail Road (CUOH), a Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. Company, to improve capacity at the Class II’s Newark Yard and mitigate the possibility of blocked railroad crossings in Zanesville, Ohio.
According to the Rail Commission, the work consists of the installation of 5,707 feet of track at Newark Yard and the installation of two radio-controlled switch machines in Zanesville. The total project cost is estimated at $1,752,740.
Newark Yard is CUOH’s primary classification yard, the railroad says. Railcars are sorted there for final distribution to area customers or built into trains bound for interchange. According to CUOH, Licking County and the surrounding region are experiencing an influx of development related to Intel and the railroad anticipates an increase of 4,000 carloads in 2023 and 2024 due, in large part, to this development: the construction of the Intel facility itself, supplier facilities, as well as roadway improvements and other required infrastructure.
CUOH has two interchanges in the City of Zanesville with the Ohio Central Railroad (OHCR) and Ohio Southern Railroad (OSRR). All three railroads are owned by G&W. To move through these interchanges, trains come to a complete stop and a railroad employee must dismount, walk to the switch, and hand-operate it. For each interchange, trains may block several grade crossings while performing this operation. As part of the project, radio-controlled switch machines will be installed at the CUOH-OHCR and CUOH-OSRR interchanges. A railroad employee in the locomotive will be able to remotely control the switch without stopping or dismounting the train, which will reduce the amount of time trains will need to occupy grade crossings in Zanesville, reducing delays for roadway users and emergency responders, according to the railroad.
“These two projects represent what the Rail Commission does best, address safety concerns and promote economic development,” said Matthew Dietrich, Executive Director of the Rail Commission. “The installation of the remotely controlled switches together with changes in operations by the railroad in Zanesville will address longstanding blocked crossing issues that were amplified by current construction on I-70. While people do not often think of freight railroads when they think of advanced manufacturing projects such as Intel, all aspects of the transportation system are needed to support these investments in the state. The Newark Yard project will increase capacity so the construction materials necessary for these developments can be delivered effectively and efficiently.”
“The project will increase capacity and relieve congestion at two key railway facilities in Newark and Zanesville, Ohio,” said Director, Engineering Grants at G&W Northern Region Railroads, Chad Boutet. “These improvements will decrease blockage of railroad crossings and improve rail transportation of materials supporting numerous infrastructure and development projects throughout the region.”