Developer asks STB for more time to purchase CSX branch in Ohio

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WARREN, Ohio — A holding company is asking the Surface Transportation Board for additional time to file paperwork that will allow it to purchase a 13.9-mile branch line in northeastern Ohio that CSX Transportation plans to abandon.

According to its petitions to the board, BDM Warren Steel Holdings is offering nearly $742,000 for the CSX Newton Falls Subdivision. Mike Bechtold, general manager of the Warren site, tells Trains News Wire that preservation of the line is necessary for future economic development. The company wants to redevelop an 1,100-acre site where it tore down a steel plant two years ago.

Bechtold says CSX offered service by way of Newton Falls, but the line extends to an unused connection with Norfolk Southern near Niles, Ohio. Access to two Class I railroads would make the property attractive to a shipper that chose to locate to the Warren site.

“Without dual service, we will lose some opportunities,” Sarah Boyarko, senior vice president for economic development with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, tells News Wire.

Boyarko says the area has several brownfield and greenfield sites for prospective businesses. The region is working hard to shed its Rust Belt past, and attract distribution warehouses, food processing, manufacturing, and suppliers supporting gas production in nearby shale fields. All told, there is $1.1 billion in pending investments in the area.

“We regularly receive inquiries for rail-served sites, and year-to-date we have received 42 inquiries, 11 of which require rail access,” according to Boyarko's letter to the STB in support of BDM Warren.

CSX petitioned the board to abandon the line in May. BDM Warren on July 9 asked the STB for more time, claiming that it received “confusing information” about the June 29 deadline for the board set for offers of financial assistance.

It's likely the line will be taken over by a short line operator. Bechtold says the company had received inquiries, but it was far too early to start selecting candidates.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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