Saratoga County

Rail hub to be built in city

A $40 million operations center and terminal will be built to anchor the western end of Pan Am Railw
Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester stands beside railroad tracks near Davenport Street as a locomotive passes on Tuesday
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester stands beside railroad tracks near Davenport Street as a locomotive passes on Tuesday

A $40 million operations center and terminal will be built to anchor the western end of Pan Am Railways and link the Capital Region with Boston.

State, local and railway officials gathered at the defunct Norfolk Southern rail yard Tuesday to announce the project, to be launched early next year and completed by April 2010. Officials estimate 250 local warehouse and distribution jobs will be created each year for at least the first five years after the 80-acre terminal and warehouse facilities open.

The high-speed freight rail will transport consumer products, primarily automobiles, and will also be used by UPS to carry items to Albany International Airport.

Wick Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Southern, said the rail service will eliminate an estimated 19,000 trucks annually from highways by 2012 and 35,000 annually by 2015. “We’re in an era of $5 per gallon for diesel fuel. Using railways not only reduces fuel consumption but also alleviates traffic congestion and wear and tear on highways,” he said.

At the end of May, Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern announced plans for the joint project, called Pan Am Southern. It is to create the Patriot Corridor, a 155-mile main line running from Mechanicville to Ayer, Mass., as well as 280 secondary and branch lines in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. The new Saratoga County rail logistics center will serve as the primary distribution hub for the Patriot Corridor.

state boost

New York state will pitch in $3 million, Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, said at the news conference.

“Today’s news is great news for the local economies in Mechanicville, Halfmoon and Stillwater,” Bruno said. “This is the place to locate and expand business that will create jobs. This is a happy day.”

More than 100 people stood near the dusty train tracks baking in the sun Tuesday listening to the announcements. Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester climbed aboard a Pan Am locomotive at the railway yard behind the city’s highway department buildings.

Sylvester was a railroad engineer for almost 20 years, working in 1992 when the city tracks were taken out of use and the once bustling loading and transfer site went silent.

“I was here to close these tracks, and now I’m here to open them,” Sylvester said. “I always hoped one day this rail yard would be back in business, but what are the odds of this?”

Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., the Norfolk Southern Corp. operates more than 21,000 route miles of track across 22 states and is the country’s largest rail carrier of metals and automotive materials, with annual revenues of $9.4 billion. Pan Am Railways is the Northeast’s largest regional railroad.

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