A railroad bridge in Lycoming County that was knocked out by the Flood of 2011 is on the fast track for replacement.
The raging waters of the Loyalsock Creek mangled the Lycoming Valley Railroad bridge near Montoursville so badly the bridge had to be torn down.
The county’s transportation planner, Mark Murawski, calls the bridge critical to the county’s economic development.
“When the bridge went out, it was going to cost the North Shore Railroad half a million dollars a year to reroute those trains to Norfolk Southern Rail lines,” said Murawski.
The federal government just awarded the county more than $2 million to help replace the bridge. The grant means the total cost of the project, roughly $8 million is now covered and will not cost the county a dime.
Near Muncy, the North Shore Railroad switches between 3,000 and 6,000 cars into the Kopper plant every year. The plant supplies railroad ties.
“I don’t think we missed a beat with the bridge out, with Lycoming Valley Railroad, I know it’s cost them a lot of extra money, but they service us well,” said Richard Miller of Kopper.
Not only does Kopper in eastern Lycoming County rely on the railroad bridge that was knocked out in the September flood, so do the burgeoning natural gas companies in the area who use the railroad to get ingredients materials they need to keep doing business.
“This railroad bridge served 35 companies in Lycoming County and many of them are Marcellus shale reliant companies, frack sand and chemicals, other things to support the drilling industry,” added Murawski.
Officials hope by this time next year, trains will be rolling across a new railroad bridge over the Loyalsock Creek.