Rail work bodes well for service in Southern Tier - The Buffalo News

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Rail work bodes well for service in Southern Tier

SALAMANCA – Although a busy construction season for the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad and the Southern Tier Rail Authority is about to end, the projects continue to enhance the regional rail transit system for freight.

WNYP President and CEO Carl P. Belke briefed members of the rail authority Monday on the status of some of the projects.

Residents along the rail line in Falconer will see a new bridge put into service at the beginning of November, Belke said. The project, financed under a $1.6 million bond in December 2011, replaces a bridge that had reached the end of its life. The bridge, Belke said, failed to meet its inspection and weight test of 273,000 pounds. The new bridge is capable of handling 315,000 pounds, Belke said.

“This is going to remove the last of the lower weights in our system,” he said. “Usually, we try to upgrade to have an improvement that meets or exceeds the anticipated standards for what is expected in the next 10 years. This, we believe, is probably a 100-year improvement.”

The improvement does more than preserve the line, given the weight test, Belke said.

“This places the WNYP squarely in the national system,” he said. “We can now, unrestrictedly, take anything offered to us.”

Tracks are being aligned and inspected to ensure that they are ready to go for their November debut. The final stage of the project will see wetlands plants replaced in an area that was disturbed by the project. A five-year budget line has been created, funded with $50,000, to ensure that the balance of the area is properly maintained, Belke said.

Another bridge project, unofficially dubbed the “4/5 Project” by WNYP officials, is in the design phase. The $909,000 state bond act project will develop two bridges in the Alfred Station, Belvidere and Salamanca areas. The design and engineering work will be done by CNS Engineering of Rochester. The work ranges from new bridge construction to steel repair and masonry.

In the Olean area, the line has replaced sodium vapor yard lights with LED units at the Constitution Avenue yard. Belke said the yellow glow at the facility at night has been replaced with a bright, white light. The number of lighting units had to be doubled to provide adequate lighting, but the reduced energy cost is expected to save the line about $7,000 per year.

Issues with the Lister Street crossing in Jamestown are still being discussed, Belke said. Solutions to the “very dangerous crossing” are being researched, he said.

The members of Southern Tier Rail Authority will next meet at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 16 in the Regional Center for Excellence, Suite 200, 4039 Route 219.

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