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COLUMBIANA CO. Crews work on rail line



Published: Wed, August 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



After brush is cleared, rotted railroad ties will be replaced.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- With trains running on the former Youngstown & amp; Southern Railway's Youngstown leg, crews are preparing to open traffic on the line's Columbiana County section.

Workers are scheduled this week to start removing brush from sections of track that pass through the county.

Taking away the growth will enable railroad workers to get a better look at the ties underlying the rails and identify those that will need to be replaced, explained Tracy Drake, county port authority director.

The agency purchased the former Youngstown & amp; Southern in January, paying $1.1 million for the defunct, 36-mile line, which stretches from Darlington, Pa., to Youngstown.

The railroad is being reopened as the Central Columbiana & amp; Pennsylvania Railway.

Hit the track: Trains began rolling in June on the track's northern section from North Lima to Youngstown.

A priority is getting the Columbiana County section operational.

Bud Gane, railroad supervisor, said he's anticipating that trains will be able to travel the entire length of the line in about three weeks.

The key to allowing that to happen was repairing the crossing at Pennsylvania state Route 51 in Beaver County, Gane said.

With that work recently completed, trains on the line will be able to move between the two states.

Funds from grant: To make many of the repairs, the port authority is tapping into a $500,000 fund created by an Ohio Rail Development Commission grant.

About one to two trains a week, each consisting of about two cars, are using the line, serving businesses in the Youngstown-Boardman area.

Train activity is low because it takes weeks to schedule train cars to transport items. Once those arrangements are in place, the volume of train traffic will increase, Drake explained.

Later this year, one 10-car train a day is likely to travel the line's length. That comes out to about 2,650 cars a year transporting items on the line, which is within the targeted usage for the Central Columbiana's first year of business, Drake said.

leigh@vindy.com




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