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Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Announces Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation Project Moving Forward

(August 01, 2012)

Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Announces Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation Project Moving Forward

The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) today announced that the first stages of the Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation Project are officially moving forward with assistance of a $1.65 million award it received as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. The project will strengthen and rehabilitate significant portions of the rail infrastructure in Orange County, as well as provide increased competitive rail access options to numerous shippers and rail served industrial development sites in the County.

“With technology advancing so rapidly, often times people forget how important the railroad system is to our economy and the environment. However, Governor Cuomo and the Council have demonstrated we understand that a strong rail transportation infrastructure is key to sustainably growing area businesses and our regional economy,” said Regional Council Co-chair Leonard S. Schleifer, MD, PhD. “By supporting this project, the Council is helping to sustain and improve a vital service to our local businesses, which will improve their bottom line and the hundreds of jobs they represent in our communities.”

“Expanding rail line capacity in the Hudson Valley will reduce congestion on New York State’s roads, improve regional air quality, and decrease wear and tear on our highways and bridges,” said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald. “Governor Cuomo’s strategic use of funding to improve the State’s economy by investing in our transportation infrastructure and supporting more efficient ways to ship goods will create jobs attract business to our great state.”

The project includes three separate Middletown & New Jersey Railroad, LLC (MNJ) line segments in Orange County: the Hudson Secondary between Warwick and Campbell Hall; the Walden Secondary between Campbell Hall and Walden; and the Middletown line between Middletown and Slate Hill.

Bob Parker, President and CEO of Regional Rail LLC and Middletown & New Jersey Railroad LLC said, “We would like to thank the Mid-Hudson Regional Development Council, our area Senators and Assembly people, and Governor Cuomo for their recognition of the importance of freight rail in Orange County, and for their support for this critical project.”

Al Sauer, Regional Rail LLC and MNJ Railroad Vice President, said, “This project is a significant first step in the reversal of many years of contraction and deferred maintenance of the freight rail lines serving Orange County. We are very appreciative of the fact that our local and state leaders, as well as economic development professionals, see the need and the benefit for a strong freight rail network in Orange County, and we look forward to working with them to attract new industry and jobs to Orange County.”

The Hudson Secondary will be the focus of the majority of the project. This project will install new ties and ballast and make necessary bridge repairs. MNJ will also reconstruct the remaining tracks in the Warwick rail yard to establish a safe and efficient interchange between MNJ and New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway (NYSW). This interchange will return rail competition to customers on MNJ's Warwick, Walden, and Maybrook lines by enabling these customers to have the option to ship via NYSW to reach CSXT and the Canadian Pacific Railway, in addition to Norfolk Southern.

On the Walden Secondary, the MNJ will reconstruct the grade crossing on Route 17K in Montgomery. This work will ensure continued operation of the Walden Secondary and will improve safety for highway users.

The remaining portion of this project will be dedicated toward replacing the aging and deteriorated crossing surface at Dolson Avenue in Middletown, reconstructing yard tracks within the MNJ's Middletown Yard, and repairing significant storm damage that occurred on the MNJ's Middletown line between Webb Road and County Route 78, south of Middletown. This portion of the line remains out of service due to washouts from Hurricane Irene.

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. As part of that process, Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation was awarded $1.656 million from the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.

Senator William Larkin said, “This Track & Rehabilitation project will enhance Orange County's ability to attract new businesses while reducing the number of heavy trucks on our local roads. It is good for our local economy and also the environment and I applaud the Governor for making these projects a reality through the Regional Economic Development Councils.” Senator John Bonacic said, “Better infrastructure translates to jobs and the potential for growth in Orange County. Rehabilitating the rail infrastructure helps the County stay competitive in this challenging economy. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing that the Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation Project is a legitimate need and making this a priority.”

Senator David Carlucci said, “Investing in rail infrastructure will provide Orange County residents more efficient transportation, less congestion on our roadways, and create jobs that will build a bridge to the 21st century. I would like to applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and for delivering for the Hudson Valley economy.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun said, “I am very pleased by the volume of this grant. It will be a tremendous help to Orange County’s transportation infrastructure. Many miles of track and bridges will be reconstructed at no cost to the residents of Orange County. My compliments to the State and to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.”

Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, Ranking Member of the Assembly Labor Committee, said, “Ensuring our communities have the infrastructure to meet the growing needs of commerce is an important factor in our collective goal of creating more, high-paying, long-term jobs. The $1.656 million award from the Regional Economic Development Council will not only strengthen local rail infrastructure but it will also help make our region more competitive and assist in our efforts to strengthen our regional economy."

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther said, “Investment in our State’s infrastructure through projects like the Orange County Track and Bridge Rehabilitation Project are critical to creating jobs in the region. I applaud Governor Cuomo and members of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council for their efforts to restore to full service this historically and regionally significant rail line. It sends a powerful message to companies looking to locate here – that New York is open for business.”

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov. For information on how the New New York is working for business, please visit www.thenewny.com.

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