Southern Tier Extension Rail Authority Reviews Recent Flood Damage, Upcoming Projects

SALAMANCA – The past year has been a busy time for projects along the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad.

At their recent meeting, members of the Southern Tier Extension Rail Authority board heard of planned projects, as well as recent storm damage.

Rains in late May have created problems for many organizations throughout the region. Railroads have not been immune. Damages to rail lines in the authority’s control in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties would be eligible for application, should a federal declaration of emergency be determined for the affected areas, according to Tom Barnes, authority secretary. Should the declaration be made, an application to aid around $750,000 of damage to rail lines would be submitted after approval from the board.

Authority members heard reports on projects underway in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties. The projects include a state Transportation Department bridge rehab project to repair five ties located in Alfred Station and Belvidere in Allegany County, accounting for four bridges and a bridge in Salamanca. Bids for concrete and steel work have been awarded to L.C. Whitford on four structures, with the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad doing the timber work on the remaining structure in Alfred Station. The project is anticipated to cost $894,989 through joint funding from state transportation and the railroad. The State Transportation Department’s contribution has been $805,408, with WNYP contributing $89,490.

Work has also started on a project to replace 8,000 ties in the Olean area. The project, costing $1,345,630.56 of joint funding, again between the railroad and state transportation, will also repair four grade crossings from Olean and the Pennsylvania state line. Work on North Fourth Street, in Olean, has been completed with Coleman Street underway. Work on Dugan Road is expected to start the week of June 23, and Barbertown Road in Portville, is expected to start July 7, according to Barnes. The final piece, the ties, will be installed along the route in August and September, with project completion being in 2014. State transportation has contributed $1,076,504.45, with WNYP chipping in $269,126.11.

A project submission for funding to the state Transportation Department would see about $2.5 million, $2 million from the state agency and would allow for the installation of about 10,000 more rail ties from Olean west to Killbuck. The project would also include the repair of 11 switches along the line, about 12,000 tons of ballast material put in place, as well as a track alignment and surfacing component, according to Barnes. The project may see a start date as soon as late 2014, but would not be complete until 2015.

A Chautauqua County project, located in the Falconer area, has been competed for the most part, Barnes said. The project realigned a bridge that is currently in service to an adjacent bridge. The bridge used now has a carload limit of about 315,000 pounds, placing it over the standard of 286,000 pounds, Barnes said. To cap off the project, some cross tie work still needs to be completed. The project is expected to be completed very shortly, according to Barnes.

As the meeting held Monday morning was the annual meeting of the board, Chautauqua County’s William Daly, outgoing chairman, was replaced by Terry Everetts, traffic and logistics manager for Dresser-Rand Company in Olean, for a one-year term.