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.