COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Rail Development Commission approved grants for Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway and Newburgh & South Shore Railroad.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission approved two grants: one grant up to $750,000 to Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway (W&LE) and another grant up to $1,247,032 to Newburgh & South Shore Railroad (NSR).
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway
The $750,000 grant for Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway is to help with the cost of replacing “the superstructure over State Route 7 in Mingo Junction, which is estimated at $1.9 million.” Last March, the ORDC approved another grant of up to $250,000 to W&LE to go toward accelerating pier repairs “on its bridge over State Route 7 in Mingo Junction.” The report goes on to state that W&LE planned to perform structural repairs to the “bridge’s steel piers and encase the piers in concrete to preserve the life of the repairs.” W&LE also planned repairs to the superstructure that will begin this Fall. Then, it determined that a complete replacement of the superstructure “(constructed on the existing repaired piers) would be a more cost effective and longer lasting solution.” With this new superstructure, the estimated lifespan is at least 75 years, and it will require “less frequent and less intensive maintenance, thus reducing traffic delays for more than 11,000 vehicles per day using State Route 7 and improving reliability for W&LE’s customers.”
Executive Director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, Matthew Dietrich, said: “After further evaluation of the superstructure, a complete replacement was determined to be the best solution. The previous repairs were critical to the immediate safety of vehicle and train traffic, but this new investment is a long-term investment for commerce and safety that will benefit railroad and highway users for years to come. The Rail Commission would not have been able to address larger safety projects such as this one without the additional funding provided by Governor DeWine and the General Assembly in the most recent state budget.”
VP of Engineering of Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, Mark Svetlich commented: “Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company would like to thank ORDC and ODOT for their assistance on the project to replace the superstructure of the bridge over State Route 7 in Mingo Junction, OH. The new bridge will replace the current structure that was originally built in 1903, providing generations of continued safe access to the Ohio River Valley via rail. Additionally, by installing a new structure current and future disruptions to the motoring public will be minimized.”
Newburgh & South Shore Railroad
The $1,247,032 grant matches NSR’s contribution “for a total project cost of $2,494,062.” The funding is split between two state fiscal years, and half of the total grant “(up to $623,516) will be budgeted in the current 2024 Fiscal Year, and the remaining balance (up to $623,516) will be budgeted in Fiscal Year 2025.”
The project includes “the replacement of 3,580 crossties, ballast distribution, and track surfacing in the yard. Additionally, seven turnouts and 1,267 feet of rail that are past their useful lifespan will be replaced.” The report goes on to state that the project works to bring Marcelline Yard to a state of good repair and to “help ensure that NSR’s customers continue to receive timely service.” Moreover, the improvements will help to “support other investments in NSR’s infrastructure that will be able to operate more efficiently with the up-to-date infrastructure as a result.”
Dietrich said of the project: “This project is an excellent example of how the Rail Commission can partner with the smaller railroads in our state to improve reliability and safety of rail operations. The improvements, together with investments in new EV locomotives, will greatly benefit the railroad’s customers and the community.”
VP of Government Affairs, OmniTRAX, Inc., David Arganbright said: “We appreciate ORDC’s continued willingness and desire to help improve the shortline railroads of Ohio and take more trucks off of congested Ohio roads. We are thankful for our partnership with the state and grant programs like this one that really help with our ability to invest for growth in our system.”