Recycling Industry: Economic Benefits

The Sidewalk

It is common knowledge that recycling plays an important role in protecting the air, water and land.  It would be hard to determine the monetary value for these essential and valuable natural resources, but the economic value of recycling can be quantified.

Recycling materials into new products is not only good for the environment but also a major job creator and generator of tax revenues.  It plays an important role in state and national economies, creating jobs and generating billions in annual economic activity.

A Major Contributor to Jobs, Wages and Tax Revenues

The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 Recycling Economic Information (REI) report, which looked at the numbers of jobs, wages and tax revenues attributed to recycling nationally, found that recycling and reuse accounted for 757,000 U.S. jobs, $36.6 billion in U.S. wages and $6.7 billion in U.S. tax revenues in the year 2007.

Iron and Steel

Steel tops…

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Will Trump Fast Track the Hyperloop?

Guest editorial by Jeff Siegel

How the Hyperloop Could Cement a Positive Legacy for Trump

I’m not exactly sure how Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan will go down.

To be honest, I still don’t even know exactly what it is. I suspect we’ll find out soon enough.

Whatever the plan is, however, I do hope it’s one that embraces technological innovation over knuckle-dragging complacency.

In other words, we need to do much more than repair bridges and roads.

If the United States has any intention of being relevant in the 21st century, it must shed the stench of mediocrity when it comes to infrastructure. Sure, roads and bridges are necessary. But so are next-generation power supplies and transportation systems.

The days of coal are coming to an end – at least in terms of electricity generation. Nuclear is a non-starter due to continued NIMBY issues, and now, the bankruptcy of the only company that had any real skin in the nuclear game – Westinghouse.

In a modern world, where modern infrastructure will be paramount to a strong economy and national security, things like wind, solar, large-scale storage and distributed energy systems are incredibly important. These things offer long-term cost advantages and opportunities to combat climate change without burdening taxpayers.

New transportation systems are a must, too.

The passenger rail system in this country, for instance, is so horrible, it rivals only a select few rail systems in third world nations and in former communist countries where some of those trains no longer run, and instead serve as “homes” for the homeless.

I’ve been on trains all over the world, and when you take a ride on Japan’s Shinkansen or Germany’s ICE, you realize just how pathetically embarrassing the rail system is in this country. But we can change this.

Make America Great Again – with the Hyperloop

Donald Trump wants to make America great again.

One way to do that is by introducing and facilitating a next-level high-speed rail system that’ll be the envy of the world.

A train system, that’s not really a train at all.

I’m talking about the hyperloop – a real next-generation high-speed transportation system that could give us the kind of competitive advantage that we really no longer have. At least in terms of transportation and infrastructure.

Now if you’re unfamiliar with the Hyperloop, this is a mode of transportation that pushes pods through reduced-pressure tubes at an average speed of 650 mph. The idea was created by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2012, and today, there are a number of companies actively looking to perfect and build Hyperloop systems for both passenger and freight travel.

Now while there’s a lot of enthusiasm about the Hyperloop, there are also a few obstacles. One of which is bureaucracy.

As reported in Verge, the Hyperloop is being built from scratch without any of the right-of-way allowances, land acquisitions, or regulatory approvals that other modes of transportation, like the railway, currently enjoy.

Dean Wise from BNSF Railway commented on this issue, saying …

It is very difficult to build anything new in the US of scale, particularly when you go into port areas where there is many competing interests. And as someone who’s primarily privately funded, we have a billion dollars of hot money in our hand, ready to build some facilities on the West Coast. And we saw the five-year delays, the eight-year delay, and now nothing happens… When projects don’t get built at all, why should someone engage in that effort?

An inconvenient truth, indeed.

But here’s the thing …

The Hyperloop could completely change the paradigm of high-speed transportation in the U.S.

In comparison to what Amtrak offers, this thing could be …

1.) Cheaper to build and operate

2.) Faster and more efficient

3.) Profitable

4.) Environmentally-friendlier

5.) Free from the bureaucratic buffoonery that’s make Amtrak the disastrous money pit it is.

Of course, the Hyperloop won’t be built overnight, but if Trump takes some initiative on this, his efforts could ultimately be compared to the efforts of Dwight Eisenhower, who made sure the interstate highway system was built.

That would be an amazing legacy for Trump, and an amazing opportunity for him to really make America great again. I hope someone in his inner circle persuades him to fast-track any efforts to make the United States the home of the Hyperloop. I think that’s something most Americans – both republicans and democrats – could get behind.

What’s Wrong With Amtrak


Letter From Andrew Selden President, United Rail Passenger Alliance

To Hon. Elaine L. Chao, Secretary United States Department of Transportation

Dear Secretary Chao:

URPA has followed with interest the Administration’s budget proposal and its purported impact on Amtrak, as well as Amtrak’s recent statements concerning its results, investment priorities and spending plans. These stories all reflect long-standing misimpressions of both the financial and operational results of Amtrak’s various train operations, and the outcomes of Amtrak’s investment strategies. The budget proposal threatens to eliminate the largest sector Amtrak operates (by output) and its most commercially successful trains (by load factor and market share).

Amtrak’s investment strategies reflect a serious misapplication of scarce capital resources. For decades—subsequent to the departure of W. Graham Claytor as CEO—Amtrak has produced a negative rate of return on invested capital:  Amtrak’s financial results are worse now than they have ever been despite the investment of tens…

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Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad

Here’s an old map of Amsterdam (courtesy of Russ Nelson) which shows the Kellogg’s Branch (Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad) leaving the New York Central mainline which runs on the East side of the Mohawk River.

Across the Mohawk River, is the West Shore Railroad.

Another, more detailed, map of the Kellogg Branch from Gino’s Rail Page, shows the entire extent of the branch. Careful! It’s BIG

In the Amsterdam, New York, area, a short spur leaves the old New York Central mainline and goes up a hill to the upper portion of Amsterdam. Once this was a separate railroad. It has continued as a branch under Penn Central, Conrail, and now CSX.

It is known as the Kellogg Industrial or by CSX as “CP-173 -to- QCG1.60”.

Here’s what the branch looks like:

CP-173: Chicago Line: Kellogg’s Yard QCG0.00
New York State Route 5 Undergrade Bridge QCG0.33
Chuctanunda Creek Bridge QCG0.98
Vrooman Avenue Grade Crossing QCG1.20
James Street Grade Crossing QCG1.40
Church Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
Jay Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
End Of Track QCG1.60

The Kellogg Branch was actually a separate railroad corporation: The Amsterdam, Chucktanunda and Northern Railroad Company. The Kellogg family owned it, and had built it (1879) to serve the their mills on the hill in upper Amsterdam. The NYC leased the RR (1907) and operated it. This railroad corporation used to show up in “Moody’s Railroads” as late as 1954 and shows it extending “about 1 mile” from the NYC main line to Jay St., Amsterdam. The AC&N owned the right-of-way, and NYCRR owned the track, aggregating about 2.71 miles including side tracks. There were 200 shares of stock outstanding, with a par value of $100, all owned by Lauren Kellog and Elizabeth K. Swift. It paid a dividend of 14.75 in 1953.

1959 Employee Timetable shows equipment restrictions as cranes X-13 to X-16 and engines nos. 526 to 566, 1000 to 5104, 6600 to 6903. The cranes were all 250-ton wrecking cranes, and the engine restrictions essentially prohibited cab units. The maximum gross weight for cars operated without special authority on the Mohawk Division at the time was 220,000 lbs (nominal 70 ton capacity) and there were no additional weight restrictions on the Branch. In 1950, the restriction read: engines heavier than U-2a, U-2b, U-2d and U-2f must not operate over the Kellogs Branch. (those were 0-8-0’s).

It is one of the steepist adhesion railroad grades in service in the country.

The Kellog’s Branch was established in the late 1800’s as a connection for the Kellogg and Miller Linseed Oil operation. Remains of this can be seen behind the present Dunkin Donuts on Route 67 in Amsterdam. The line was extended to the Sanford Carpet Mills, present day Noteworthy Printing.

NYC named the line the Kellogg’s Branch and for some reason, Conrail refered to it as “The Kellog’s Branch.” Why they dropped the last ‘G’, who knows.

In 1905, a spur was built off the Branch (Originally called the Linseed Oil Branch) headed north to the Mclarey and Wallins Carpet Mills, later Mohawk Mills. A large wooden trestle was built across a ravine to reach the plant. There was a steam generating plant there as well, which facilitated another trestle, this one made of stone. Parts of the trestle are still on the property. The smoke stack, seen all over Amsterdam and as you made your way up the NYS Thruway was just knocked down recently.

Sometime in the 1960s, a spur was built to Fiberglass Industries in the Edison Ave. Industrial Park. This is THE sole remaining customer.

The line was abandoned from the FGI spur north around 1990. Some of the last customers on the line were a paper company, COLECO toys (Former Sanford Mill) and a lumber yard just north of the FGI switch. The trestles were removed sometime in the 1990’s. There were several impressive ones. The two at Mohawk Mills, and a large wooden trestle that curved over the Chuctanunda Creek near the Forest Ave. Paper Mill.

A Conrail caboose was used to push up the branch, but after a derailment in 2004 it was moved to the CSX interchange where it has sat ever since. In 2006, 3 trips are made a week, usually Monday, Wednesday. and Friday. Inbound covered hoppers of sand come in and emptys go out.

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New York Central Fire Brigades

New York Central had several fire departments composed of volunteers from railroad employees. Some locations like West Albany and Selkirk had actual fire trains. Other locations had a single car. Beech Grove Shops on the Big 4 in Indianapolis had a home made fire engine pulled by a tractor. Several cars were available for the Adirondack Division as the road passed through a forest preserve. These cars had lots of the backpack pumps, called Indian Pumps. In 1950 West Albany was still a big railroad facility as evidenced by the West Albany Fire Brigade.

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