Rail Project Nears Completion In Falconer

SALAMANCA – A new bridge that far exceeds current standards and solidly welded track will soon be complete and active in the Falconer area.

Carl P. Belke, Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad president and chief operating officer, briefed the members of the rail authority Monday morning, as to the status of some large projects, both in length and funding.

Residents along the rail line in Falconer will see a new bridge cut into service at the beginning of November, Belke said. The project, a $1.6 million bond award in December 2011, replaced a bridge that had reached the end of its useful service life. The bridge, Belke said, failed to meet its inspection and weight test for 273,000 pounds. That weight limit is an old standard, used by the rail industry and the federal government. The current standard would require the bridge to meet a 286,000-pound weight test. The new bridge to be opened will meet 315,000-pound tests, 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 on the line are being aligned and inspected to ensure the track is ready to go for the November opening. The last stage of the project will see the wetlands plants balanced and replaced along the area that had to be disturbed. A five-year budget line has been created, funded with $50,000, to ensure the balance of that area is properly maintained.

Issues with the Lister Street crossing, in Jamestown, are still being discussed, Belke said. No solution to the grade crossing closure have been found, but options are being researched at what Belke termed a “very dangerous crossing.”

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