The Reading & Northern Railroad has been awarded a $10 million State Capital budget grant to build a new railroad bridge over the Lehigh River near Nesquehoning in Carbon County, Pa. The project cost is in excess of $14 million with Reading & Northern investing the balance.
The new bridge will provide Reading & Northern with an efficient and safe north/south route connecting the Philadelphia region to New England and eastern Canada. Reading & Northern will offer the use of this route to both Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railroads; both already use part of the Reading & Northern’s mainline track today.
According to Andrew Muller, Jr., owner and chief executive officer of the railroad, this bridge will enable Reading & Northern to provide improved service to dozens of its existing customers. It will be the fastest and most economical route into the Marcellus Shale territory in northeast Pennsylvania and it will assist in the development of the Port of Philadelphia allowing unit trains of double-stack intermodal containers to flow in and out of the Port of Philadelphia to points in the northeastern United States and Canada.
Muller said other public benefits would result from this project by keeping heavy trucks off Pennsylvania roads, improving highway safety, congestion mitigation and air quality, while reducing highway wear and tear and fuel usage.
Under the terms of the August 15 grant, the state funds will be made available over two fiscal years in 2014 and 2015, with $5,000,000 being released each year.
Muller noted that more than $6 million of domestically manufactured materials would be produced for this bridge. During the 18-month construction period, 140 direct jobs will be created, plus numerous indirect jobs created by the producers of purchased materials.
Reading & Northern operates a 320-mile regional rail system in nine counties in eastern Pennsylvania and employs more than 180 employees at the railroad and related businesses. In 2013, more than 85,000 carloads moved over Reading & Northern lines.