Greenfield has been awarded a grant totaling more than $3.4 million for improvements on its 29-mile rail spur.
This comes only a couple years after the completion of another multi-million dollar improvement project on the rail line. However, the railroad was not refurbished as thoroughly as what was originally planned due to significant cost increases over the nearly four years it took from project funding to actually getting the project started.
Due to that, there have been ongoing maintenance issues along the rail that this grant will remedy. According to Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin, the grant dollars will cover improvements like tie replacement, the replacement of a couple crossings that are in poor shape, and several bridge replacements.
The award came with the help of partnerships with the Highland County Board of Commissioners, Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG), Ohio Rail Development Commission (ODRC), Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, and the Federal (Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Through the partnerships, the match money of more than $1.7 million was raised for the 50/50 grant. That money was matched through the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.
“It’s a great thing for the county,” getting the rail system to a better level of operation as it supports so much industry and employment in the county, Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan said.
Wilkin thanked those involved in the partnerships for their dedication to Greenfield’s rail spur.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s a big deal for our region. We are still waiting for the details as to how and when we can get started. Our goals are to remedy the slow orders on the track.”
Currently, the rail is rated at 10 miles per hour, which is the lowest allowable rating for transportation of hazardous materials. The improvements will bring the rail to a 25 mile per hour rating.
The 29-mile rail spur supports approximately 1,800 jobs with the industries on the line — Greenfield’s Adient, Leesburg’s Candle-lite, and New Vienna’s Huhtamaki.
Huhtamaki Plant Manager Michael Wadsworth, said,” Our facility at New Vienna has been experiencing good growth the past couple years. The security of the railroad helps to ensure this growth with the delivery of our raw materials.”
“We are very excited about the grant,” Bryan Thompson, plant manager at Adient, said. “It will give Adient and Candle-lite and Huhtamaki the ability to get more reliable deliveries” and ensure productivity.
“This grant, along with the support from other state and federal partners,” said Katy Farber, vice president of APEG, also known as Ohio Southeast, “ensures this valuable regional asset can continue to help support employment and economic growth in the area.”
“This grant shows the dedication that the Greenfield administration has for its shipping partners and the 1,800 jobs associated with the rail,” Wilkin said. “This will help solidify many local jobs for our region.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.