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Carbon railroad commission OKs $19K reimbursement to county

Published April 03. 2019 12:37PM

The Carbon County Rail Commission is reimbursing the county’s general fund $19,000 for services the county covered that were railroad related.

Last week, the county railroad commission voted on two reimbursements — $7,600 for the repairs Carbon County made to the fencing along Route 209 overlooking the county parking lot and railroad tracks, and $11,300 for railroad engineering review fees and inspector fees for the storage facility project that is nearing completion at the end of the parking lot. The railroad commission consists of the Carbon County Commissioners.

“We’re spending a lot of money reimbursing the county on what we think are improvements … and things associated with the railroad,” Commissioner William O’Gurek said. “We’re reimbursing the general fund so that it is no cost to the taxpayers.”

The board explained that it receives 2 percent of all freight traffic that travels over the county-owned railroad line.

“It isn’t a lot,” Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne Nothstein said of the freight traffic, adding that of that 2 percent, 25 percent of it goes to Lansford, which is a deal that was made decades ago when the line was purchased.

Nothstein pointed out this was the first time the railroad commission reimbursed the county for projects relating to the railroad and said that officials are looking at maybe another reimbursement possibly for administrative fees the county incurs with railroad business as well.

The money Carbon County receives from the railroad traffic is not required to go back into the railroad, officials said, but the commission has tried to keep payments related to the railroad in some way, whether it be for safety or repairs.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard said that the fencing project was needed because it has been the center of questions for years as to who maintains it — Jim Thorpe, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or Carbon County.

The project only included repairs to the fencing to make it safer for the public walking from the east side of Jim Thorpe into the borough along Route 209, but not replaced.

In other matters, the railroad commissioner authorized a one-time $10,000 donation to the Lehigh Canal Commission to help defray the maintenance costs of the canal.

O’Gurek said that the commission told the board about the costs to maintain the Lehigh Canal and pathways.

“I think we’re doing our part to try and help those communities who are part of the Lehigh Canal Commission,” he said.

Carbon County is not a member of the commission.

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