Wednesday, December 07, 2011

New bridge eyed for NS Southern Tier

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Growing freight traffic potential, spurred on by energy production activity in the Marcellus Shale formation in western New York State and Pennsylvania, is encouraging Norfolk Southern to replace a historic bridge on NS’s Southern Tier route linking Buffalo and Binghamton, N.Y., and spanning the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park, near Castile, N.Y.

ns_logo.jpg“The route connects Western New York communities and businesses with international markets by way of East Coast ports,” said NS Public Relations Manager David Pidgeon. “Additionally, 10 short line railroads benefit from this rail line, and if the line is closed, it will have serious consequences for their businesses. It could also have serious consequences for freight rail in New England, Canada, and the Midwest.”

Norfolk Southern, along with Canadian Pacific, applied for $17.75 million in federal funding last month to replace the 136-year-old bridge. A new bridge would be built 75 feet south of the existing structure, NS said.

NS noted plans for intermodal service linking Buffalo, N.Y. and vicinity with Port Authority of New York & New Jersey facilities serving metropolitan New York City were driving the plan. As well, the line is expected to handle growing movements of pipe and sand to the Southern Tier and to Pennsylvania, as Marcellus Shale energy efforts increase.

“Regional carload traffic jumped more than 1,000 percent between 2009 and 2010, and much of that can be attributed to rail shipments related to natural gas drilling,” NS’s Pidgeon said. “Norfolk Southern ships pipe, sand, chemicals and drilling equipment to natural gas developers. That’s an industry experiencing considerable growth, and Norfolk Southern and its short line partners see the potential for business to be very bright.”