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Gernatt Asphalt's proposal to add a 3,000-foot railroad siding at its Great Valley gravel processing plant has gained preliminary backing from the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency.

Construction costs are estimated at about $666,000, the value of the leaseback proposal that received preliminary approval during a Wednesday meeting of the agency's board of directors. The project is an outgrowth of a 1999 $6.25 million tax-exempt industrial revenue bond issue for Horton Road plant expansion on 45 acres in Great Valley.

CCIDA owns the property under a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement and last month agreed to sponsor Gernatt's application for $150,000 in state grants and loans under the Industrial Access Program for the new siding.

The agency also agreed to guarantee Gernatt's repayment of the low-interest IAP construction loan, provided the estimated $60,000 to $70,000 cost is first turned over to the CCIDA.

Gernatt also must share the siding with other manufacturers who wish to ship products on the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad's main line to Buffalo between Buffalo and Corry, Pa.

CCIDA Executive Director Norm Leyh said if the project is approved, the siding will help increase rail export of Cattaraugus County goods over the B&P. A preliminary hearing must be held before the matter is considered for final approval, but that date has not been set.

In another matter, the board also approved a late-payment policy that carries a 1 percent assessment for 30 to 60 days in arrears, and 2 percent for 60 to 100 days in arrears. The penalties apply to industrial park leases, agency-owned railroad taxes and other fees.

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