By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
OZENS OF SPECTATORS and train buffs got an added treat and a taste of history with the first business delivery by the former Youngstown & amp; Southern Railway in more than five years.
The railway, which has been renamed the Central Columbiana and Pennsylvania Railway, is operated by Columbiana County Port Authority.
Residents, most flanked by small children and carrying disposable cameras, lined both sides of Southern Boulevard just before noon Thursday in anticipation of the train's arrival.
Nicholas Kubala, 4, and his baby sitter Laura Magner, staked out a spot near U.S. Route 224, an anticipated trouble spot for the train, to watch and wave. Magner said Nicholas loves trains, but Thursday's trip to the tracks may be the closest he will come to riding one for some time.
The train, with flagmen out front at each intersection, inched its way up the street just before 1 p.m. at an estimated speed of about 3 mph. There was only one boxcar attached to the train carrying a load of bricks headed for Boardman Supply on Southern Boulevard.
To the surprise of most people who turned out to watch, the train cleared Route 224 in a matter of seconds, tying up traffic no longer than the red light situated at the intersection.
Tracy Drake, port authority director, said traffic at the busy intersection was taken into consideration when it was decided to reactivate the line. He said the railroad, legally, can operate at any hour, but the port authority has agreed to run trains only at times other than rush hour.
Two runs daily: Drake said once the line is fully operational, one train will run in each direction daily with an average of 12 cars attached on each trip. He said the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Rail Development Commission are working to put cross bars at the Route 224-Southern Boulevard intersection.
The port authority plans to eliminate some of the problems that caused the line to fail by maintaining daily train runs and assuring customer delivery. The authority has secured signed contracts for 2,200 cars' worth of material. About 1,000 cars are needed to break even on operating cost, Drake added.
He said permits for a construction and demolition debris landfill in Negley in Columbiana County, which will account for 40 percent of the line's traffic, are still pending.
Good for business: The return of railway service has made at least one township businessman happy.
James Pipoly, owner of Boardman Supply, said the company set up delivery specifically for trains before the line's closing several years ago, but were never able to use it -- until now.
Pipoly said there is a nationwide shortage of bricks, and he has been told by several suppliers that railroad service would afford his company a virtually endless supply. He anticipates bringing in more than 30 carloads of brick this summer.
"We are looking to bring in as much material by train as feasibly possible," Pipoly added. "I think our brick sales will be 10 times more than in any other previous year because of this."