cash infusion for short line

Friday, February 09, 2018 16:24 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

- A rail line in northern Indiana once close to being abandoned is moving further down the comeback trail.

That's good news for farmers in LaPorte, Porter and Starke counties serviced by the short line.

A $600,000 grant has been awarded to the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad to put in over 4,000 new cross ties on a 15 mile stretch of line from Wellboro beside Union Mills to LaCrosse.

The railroad is picking up half the cost with the balance coming from the state's Industrial Rail Service Fund.

Powell Felix, president of the railroad, said the work expected to be finished in the fall will complete the replacement of cross ties that started when the line extending to Malden was close to being abandoned before purchased 14-years ago from CSX.

''We're just trying to patch it back up and get everything back to normalized maintenance levels,'' Felix said.

Felix said one reason for the line's resurrection is tying into Norfolk Southern rails at Thomaston near Hanna four-years after the acquisition.

The short line was already tied in with CSX but a connection with a second major railroad provided the ability to reach additional markets to the eastern half of the U.S. with product.

Co-Alliance elevators in Union Mills and Malden increasing storage capacity for grain and fertilizer is another reason the number of cars moved on the line has grown from about 700 in 2004 to well over 3,000 presently.

''We've been fortunate working with Co-Alliance to really dramatically increase the traffic,'' he said.

Felix said more business also came from recently adding to the line synthetic gypsum for delivery to drywall plants.

''We're always looking to expand our traffic base,'' he said.

Additional improvements to the Thomaston interchange are also planned to support increased traffic from Co-Alliance, the largest grain co-op in the state.

''This grant funding allows us to continue improving the tracks and bridges as business grows,'' Felix said.