Will the third time be the charm for a million dollar rail project in Carbon County?

During the monthly meeting of the county railroad commission, the board voted to approve an electronic access agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that gives authorization to Reading and Northern Railroad to access the dotGrants system for the 2010 Rail Freight Assistance Program on behalf of the commission.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, who also chairs the commission, said the county has applied for a $1 million RFAP grant to complete repairs on the high bridge in Hometown. The project calls for major repairs on the 185-foot high bridge.

He said that the difference this year, from the previous two attempts to obtain funding for the project, is that the county has indicated to PennDOT that the $300,000 match will be provided if the grant is awarded.

"This is a vital part of the rail operations," O'Gurek said, noting that the high bridge connects Reading and Northern's routes that serve many businesses throughout the area.

He added that the county hopes that one day the future Packerton Business Park will utilize the rail for transportation of goods and cut down on truck traffic.

The commission also recognized Reading and Northern for its commitment to the railroad.

O'Gurek said that over the years, the company has spent thousands of dollars to maintain the rail lines and keep them operational.

This is the third time Carbon County has applied for an RFAP grant to cover the high bridge project.

In 2007, the commission applied for a 2008 RFAP grant for the repairs of the high bridge and the triple track crossing in Jim Thorpe, but after learning the county would have to match 50 percent of the total cost, the commission pulled out its application.

In 2008, the commission applied for a 2009 RFAP grant in the hopes of getting both projects funded, but the application was not selected.