Port takes another step toward rail line and facility at airport

The Western Reserve Port Authority has taken a second step toward extending a railroad line two miles into the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to help develop the region’s oil and gas industry.

By Ed Runyan



The Western Reserve Port Authority has taken a second step toward extending a railroad line two miles into the Youngstown- Warren Regional Airport to help develop the region’s oil and gas industry.

The authority approved paying up to $10,000 plus expenses to Hamman Consulting of Cleveland to negotiate an agreement with several companies interested in developing the line and creating a transload facility at the airport for loading and unloading raw materials and products.

Hamman also will pursue funding for construction of the line and facility, said Dan Dickten, director of aviation at the airport. The port authority runs the airport.

Dickten said Jason Hamman, who wrote the study for Silverload Consulting of Cleveland that said such a project is feasible, has had discussions with Kinder Morgan Energy Co., Watco Inc. and Norfolk-Southern railroad company regarding a possible project, Dickten said.

The additional funding would allow Hamman to further develop the idea.

The port authority and Trumbull County Engineer’s office paid $29,500 for the Silverload study, which said it would make sense to extend a rail line from the Norfolk Southern rail line near the 84 Lumber yard on state Route 82 in Brookfield Township west to one of two areas of vacant land at the airport.

The study presented two possible paths the line could follow — along an abandoned rail line that travels northwest from the lumber yard and ends near Ridge Road, or creating a new line that heads slightly north and directly west and meets the airport property at its south end.

Vienna Township Trustee Phil Pegg told the board he is among three officials from Vienna, Brookfield and Fowler townships who are concerned about such a rail line.

“We’d like more information as to where the line would go,” Pegg said, adding that it concerns some people that the port authority has the power to acquire property through eminent domain.

The village of Lordstown has had concerns regarding train traffic’s slowing police and fire vehicles traveling to emergencies, so that would be a concern here, Pegg said.

The abandoned rail line mentioned in the study has been idle for many decades, Pegg added, and one house sits on it.

The port authority also approved an agreement to lease half of the former air-cargo building on Ridge Road on the western edge of the airport to Niles Expanded Metals and Plastics of Pleasant Avenue at a cost of $3,492 per month.

The rent would pay more than half of the authority’s $5,766 monthly payment on the building, which the authority bought in December to alleviate concerns by the Federal Aviation Administration over the lease the authority approved in 2009 with the current occupant, Millwood Inc.

Niles Expanded Metals and Plastics has defense contracts associated with aircraft products and will use the airport for transport of products and personnel, Dickten said.

That use is more acceptable to the FAA than Millwood’s because Millwood doesn’t work in the aviation industry. Niles Expanded Metals and Plastics still isn’t a “true” aeronautical use, so the authority’s lease with the company initially is only for two, two-year terms.

Niles Expanded Metals and Plastics will move in after Millwood has left, no later than this June, Dickten said.

The authority Wednesday also approved paying up to $21,000 and expenses to SF Global Insights LLC to “define and develop an air- cargo program” and acquire a company or companies to work in the air-freight business from the other half of the building.

The building is adjacent to a cargo apron at the airport that the FAA paid $11.5 million to construct. The apron has gone unused since it was built about 15 years ago.

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