Rail relocation project in western New York revitalizes former Bethlehem Steel site

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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The Rail Relocation Project at the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, N.Y., is now complete. The project entailed the installation of approximately two miles of track in the north-south direction on the site, in the process removing tracks that had hindered access to the site and opening up approximately 300 acres of land

ready for development and new investment.

 “I am pleased to announce the completion of this project at the former and historic Bethlehem Steel site, which will usher in a new era of economic development in Lackawanna and the entire Western New York region,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “The relocation of rail track has transformed the site into a more efficient transportation network, while opening up hundreds of acres of land for new investment. This project is evidence of the progress we are achieving to jumpstart Upstate New York and the revitalization we are continuing to spark all across the state. Today’s completion has been over a decade in the making and I applaud all those involved in making it a reality.”

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) served as the project and construction manager for the project. New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT) funding accounted for $4.4 million of the project costs, while a National Grid Brownfield Redevelopment Program Grant accounted for $300,000.

“With this project, we lift a barrier to job creation and economic development in the city of Lackawanna,” said Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). “For too long western New York saw itself as a helpless victim of lost industry. Today, with projects like this, we are finding new opportunities to embrace our past and re-imagine our future.”

The existing rail system at the Bethlehem site was designed to serve a single-use steel manufacturing facility, which has been closed for 30 years. The new rail system, which consists of a “spine” rail corridor through the center of the site, replaces a large amount of track that had been located along Route 5 and had blocked access to the site and will maximize the site’s intermodal possibilities.

The Bethlehem site is one of the largest brownfield sites in upstate New York with more than 1,000 acres, of which 400 acres are available for near-term redevelopment. It is the only site in Erie County with rail, port and easy highway access and is one of the few available sites in Erie County zoned for heavy industry.


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