ORDC Commissioners OK Rail Upgrades for Lorain’s U.S. Steel
Plant Expansion and Lancaster to Logan Rail Line
Grant Approved for Historic Dennison Depot Mobility Access
Columbus (Thursday, March 10, 2011) – Two track projects that will help support the $93-million expansion of U.S. Steel’s Lorain Tubular Operations (LTO) and help create 90 new jobs and preserve 523 existing jobs have been given the go-ahead by ORDC Commissioners. The Lorain plant is ramping up to produce pipe needed for natural gas exploration and drilling, most notably in the Marcellus shale fields of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
The two track projects at the LTO plant site will enable more efficient movement of incoming and outgoing freight car loads, as well as to handle an anticipated increase in demand for steel pipe. The plant currently has rail operations that handle up to 20,000 to 30,000 tons a month, or about 220 to 330 rail cars, of inbound pieces of steel called “rounds” that are processed into seamless pipes.
Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko calls this “great news for the City of Lorain, U.S. Steel and the State of Ohio. ORDC’s assistance will greatly improve operations at U.S Steel and enable them to grow both business and jobs for an employer that has been a cornerstone of this community since 1903.”
On the heels of approving a $150,000 grant for the first of three phases of a major track rehabilitation of the Indiana & Ohio’s Lancaster to Logan rail line at their January meeting, Commissioners accelerated a second phase of the project with $175,000 grant to leverage matching railroad funds for rebuilding this important Southeast Ohio rail line. The line currently serves 3 rail-dependent shippers that employ 259 people. This investment in the rail line will help support further investment and expansion of business that could create between 30 and 50 new jobs.
The Logan Line project will bring the rail corridor up to Federal Railroad Administration standards for Class II (25 MPH) operations, enabling the line to handle bigger, heavier rail cars and loads and improving reliable service to customers along the line. Major shippers on the line include Smead Manufacturing (paper products), General Electric (glass tubes) and Keynes Brothers (wheat milling). Both Smead and GE are making major investments in their facilities. In addition, Logan area officials are working to bring new business to the rail-connected former Goodyear plant and a 13-acre industrial development site.
“Our local rail system is integral to keeping many local businesses competitive and attracting new businesses to our region”, says Fairfield County Economic Development Director Shane Farnsworth. “We have seen an increase in the use of rail for shipping and receiving and the improvements to the Logan rail line will allow our region to continue to serve the needs of our local businesses.”
Logan-Hocking County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Rinehart also sees the project as strengthening a tool for attracting new business and jobs. “I just got back from a renewable energy trade show and 75 to 80 percent of the companies I spoke with asked about how strong our rail system is in Ohio”, says Rinehart. “A stronger rail line is a tremendous boost for our local economy by making us more attractive to companies like this, as well as giving our existing employers more reliable and cost-effective shipping service at a time when fuel costs are such a big factor.”
Commissioners also voted to approve a modification to a grant agreement with Coshocton Ethanol, which is restarting production after an almost 2 year shutdown due to the economy. The new agreement reduces the annual car-load requirements tied to original 2005 grant for track work and other rail improvements during the construction of the ethanol plant. Modifying the agreement will facilitate the re-starting of the plant and the re-hiring of 41 employees to full-time jobs.
An $18,000 grant was also approved to assist the Dennison Depot Museum in building a ramp and wheelchair lift for easier access for people whose mobility is limited. This ramp will enable greater access to the Museum’s popular annual “Polar Express” excursions during the Christmas holiday season. In 2010, the Museum says around 30 passengers in wheelchairs had to be lifted by hand into the rail passenger cars. The grant will allow the new ramp and lift to be built for the 2011 season. The Museum says the excursion trains annually bring over $1.2-million dollars into the local economy.
Finally, the Commission approved a staff-recommendation for ORDC to assist the Ohio Department of Transportation in purchasing a small portion of right-of-way needed for a highway bridge replacement that is part of the multi-million dollar and multi-state CSX “National Gateway” intermodal corridor project. The agreement will enable CSX to reimburse the cost of the right-of-way acquisition to ODOT through the ORDC. The project will replace two bridge crossings at River Crossing Road and Pawnee Roads with a single bridge that will also meet the height requirements for CSX to operate double-stack container trains.
For more information contact:
Stu Nicholson, ORDC Communications,
at 614-644-0513 or