Aqua will not purchase rail line

By Burton Speakman


The Youngstown & Southern rail line has seen another buyer fall by the wayside, and the Columbiana County Port Authority has moved on to other unidentified customers.

A letter of intent previously had been signed to sell the line to a subsidiary of Aqua America. The agreement was announced in late June.

Aqua’s pulling out of the agreement was a mutual decision between the company and the port authority, said Tracy Drake, CEO of the port authority.

The port authority is working with other companies, and the hope is that a resolution will come soon, he said Monday.

The Y&S rail line travels along Southern Boulevard in Boardman and continues through Columbiana County to Darlington, Pa. The majority of the 36-mile line is in Columbiana County.

Despite Aqua’s not purchasing the rail line, the company still could end up being involved in the project.

“The port authority is still negotiating with Aqua to lease some right of way,” Drake said.

Aqua has not responded to attempts to contact the company for this story.

Tom Costello, Boardman Township trustee, said previously that his expectation was that Aqua would use the rail line as a right of way to provide water to hydraulic-fracturing operations in Columbiana County.

Boardman Township officials including Costello have been critical of the line, due to a lack of maintenance for a number of years.

An Aqua America official had stated in 2012 that the company wanted to run water pipelines in Ohio similar to the ones it uses in Pennsylvania to deliver water more efficiently to drilling operations.

This was not the first time an agreement to sell the line wasn’t completed. A potential agreement with Tervita, an environmental and energy-services company, fell through.

The company cited the condition of the rails and the cost to fix them as reasons the agreement wasn’t completed.

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