Rail service to proposed biz park eyed: Old FJ&G Right-Of-way

Feasible to use old FJ&G right-of-way: officials

August 10, 2015
By KERRY MINOR Leader Herald
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MOHAWK – A study found it is feasible to establish rail service from the CSX tracks in Fonda to the site of the proposed regional business park, local officials said.

Fulton County Planner Jim Mraz and Montgomery County Business Development Center Director Ken Rose announced the results of the engineering evaluation Aug. 3 during a business park tour.

A map, provided during the tour, shows the former FJ&G Railroad right-of-way could be redeveloped from the CSX rail line in Fonda to the regional business park site north of the village.

Mraz said this morning the cost to install the rail lines would range from $10 million to $15 million. The right-of-way for the old rail line would be used for the new rail service, he said.

“The good news about the rail study is that [re-establishing rail service] is feasible,” Rose said.

The regional business park would be built on 280 acres of town farmland. The site would be south of Opportunity Drive at the Johnstown Industrial Park off Route 30A in Fulton County. Land would be annexed into the city of Johnstown to enable a connection to water and sewer services. The site would be shared by both counties to bring a company or companies into the park.

Officials for both Fulton and Montgomery counties have said the available land at established business parks in their respective counties is too small to accommodate the needs of large-scale businesses.

Talks about renewing the abandoned rail line began in September 2013. In 2014, Plumley Engineering of Rome, Oneida County, was paid $28,350 to do an engineering evaluation on re-establishment of a railroad spur to the park site.

Michael Mullis, an international site selector from Memphis, Tenn., discussed the importance of rail service during his consultation on the site development. Mullis suggested the county do a study to show businesses it is feasible to run a rail spur up to the site.

“What [Mullis] told us was, ‘Let’s do an engineering study … that you can give to me that says, yes, [re-establishing rail service] is feasible and here’s what it will cost. So, if I have that and I have a company that needs 200-plus acres and wants rail, I will simply hand them the report, and here’s what is feasible and here’s what can be done,'” Mraz said.

Mraz said Mullis told him around 72 percent of large businesses that contact Mullis want to have access to rail lines. Without that access, some businesses wouldn’t consider sites.

“This is all part of the process of getting the site shovel ready certified by Empire State Development,” Mraz said. “And that’s an important designation. It gives recognition and credence to this site that it’s truly shovel ready.”

This morning, Mraz said any installation of rail service would not happen unless a company said they needed it as a part of the development.

Re-establishing rail service would be a multi-year project that would include getting state and federal permits – including one to put in a crossing and traffic signals on Route 5, he said.

Mraz said officials have already talked with CSX about the possibility of extending the line.

Fulton County is also studying the possibility of putting in a bypass road that would take trucks up to the Regional Business Park without traveling up Route 29. It was recently announced the routes have been narrowed down to three possibilities.

Mraz said during the tour the proposed bypass and proposed business park are not mutually exclusive, and one can go forward without the other.

Thank you to our old friend Gino DiCarlo for this great information