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Carbon officials seek to define what railroad property it owns

Published July 28. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County officials are hoping to define its railroad property.

During the monthly meeting of the county railroad commission, the board said that they are hoping to meet with C&S Railroad, the company hired to manage the county's railroad and Reading and Northern Railroad, and discuss Andy Strauss' of Strauss and Associates/Planners of Trenton, N.J. findings on the county-owned railroad property and come up with a better defined outline of who manages what portion of the property.

"The commissioners' intent is that we just hope to define and delineate what is going to be under the contract," said Commissioner William O'Gurek, who also chairs the railroad commission.

Carbon County currently owns 21 miles of railroad from Packerton Yards in Lehighton to Rush Township, Schuylkill County, which it purchased in the 1980s.

The county hired Strauss in September 2009 to review all deeds, the title of the property, easements, engineering data, identify mile posts and the Nesquehoning Branch Line 1009, and anything associated with the rail line and nonrail real estate. The total for that agreement was not to exceed $10,000.

Strauss went to Washington D.C., where everything was located, and completed extensive research on the matter. He has since finished and compiled all findings for the county.

"We want to do this amicably and I hope that they do too," O'Gurek said. "We want to sit down with them (the railroad) and figure this whole thing out. We just need to get to the table and sort it out and make it a win/win situation for both of us."

In other railroad matters, the board received notification from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that due to a shortfall in revenue, all 2010 Rail Freight Assistance Program funding has been cut from the 2010 state fiscal year budget. Funding for the project, in the amount of $435,456, will now be under the 2010 Capital Budget (TAP) program.

Carbon County was named a recipient of the funds in December 2009.

The money will be used to make repairs to the Hometown High Bridge in Schuylkill County. Carbon owns that stretch of railroad land and Reading and Northern Railroad utilizes the line for its business.

The money will not cover the total cost of the project, which is $1 million; but it will help complete some of the major repairs needed along the 185-foot high bridge.

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