U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, took a firsthand view of the railroad bridge improvement project happening near Falconer on Friday.
The project was done to alleviate the previous weight restrictions placed on the bridge. The bridge now meets rail industry standards for weight.
Prior to going to view the project, Reed, state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and E.H. Blabey II, Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad chairman and chief executive officer, discussed the bridge replacement at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station, located along West Second Street in Jamestown.
The railroad bridge project received funding assistance from both the federal and state governments. State grants covered half of the restoration costs and a tax credit co-sponsored by Reed covered the balance of the project. Reed said with improvement projects like this, area businesses like Monofrax will be able to use the railroad which will help keep jobs in the local economy.
“Our aging infrastructure and transportation systems deserve careful consideration as taxpayers receive a direct return from these kinds of investments,” Reed said.
“My experiences, especially as mayor of Corning, showed me the impact that quality infrastructure can have on economic development and through the jobs supported by short line freight.”
Young said she is happy the state also invested in the project.
“We need to have the infrastructure to grow,” she said.
Blabey said prior to the bridge replacement project, trails running on the railroad had to carry less freight and travel at slower speeds. He said trains were only able to operate at 10 mph and hold less than 273,000 pounds when crossing the bridge.
“The industry standard is 286,000 pounds. So the train had a light load,” he said.
With the new bridge, trains traveling the railroad line can now carry 315,000 pounds.
“If we had not replaced the bridge, service to Jamestown would have stopped,” Blabey said.