Schumer, Gillibrand, Owens: This Rail Status Means Rail- Centered Job-Creating Infrastructure Projects in Adirondacks Can Chug Down the Tracks

Press Release

By:  Bill Owens Chuck Schumer Kirsten Gillibrand
Date: May 14, 2012
Location: Unknown

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Bill Owens announced that the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) has heeded their call and approved Iowa Pacific Holdings' request for common carrier status, which will allow them to reopen the Tahawus Line between North Creek and Newcomb, and resume hauling freight to and from businesses along that line. Iowa Pacific Holdings has been seeking this rail status for several months, and after the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation got on board with this plan, Schumer, Gillibrand and Owens called on the Federal Surface Transportation board to grant this critical status.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Owens applauded the STB decision to provide Iowa Pacific common carrier status, which will allow the rail company to recomission the Tahawus line and begin hauling unsightly tailings from the Adirondacks that can then be refined into rare earth elements from Titanium tailings left over from mining during World War II. Schumer has long pushed for more domestically produced rare earth elements, which are critical to high-tech and manufacturing companies across New York. The representatives noted that the reopening of this line will also cut down the number of truckloads for this work by 2 million, and dramatically reduce harmful emissions. Reconstructing this line will create short-term construction jobs, and long-term jobs once hauling begins, and would inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy each year.

"Today's announcement is great news for the Adirondacks region, and I'm pleased that the feds have granted Iowa Pacific Holdings the rail status it needs to move job-creating infrastructure projects chugging down the tracks," said Senator Schumer. "The Federal Surface Transportation Board approval of Iowa Pacific Holdings' request for common carrier status, will allow them to reopen the Tahawus Rail line between North Creek and Newcomb and create dozens of jobs thanks to rail reconstruction and resumed hauling between businesses along the line. The reopening of this rail line will reduce the amount of truck traffic and emissions in the Adirondacks, but will also pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy each year of this project. I am thrilled that STB has heeded our call, and that reconstruction of the rail line and ensuing economic activity from its completion can benefit the Adirondack Region for years to come."

"Infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to create jobs fast, and connect more workers and businesses of our state to help drive economic growth for years to come," Senator Gillibrand said. "This is the right decision to help get the North Country's economy on the move, as well as get more trucks off our roads and highways, and cut pollution in the process."

"This project is needed to continue the momentum we have experienced in job growth and economic development in the community," said Representative Bill Owens. "The reopening of this rail line has the potential to create jobs in the short and long term, while laying the foundation for more businesses to find a new home in New York. I would like to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congressman Chris Gibson and local economic development leaders like Garry Douglas for their efforts on reviving this project."

"The North Country Chamber sees transportation infrastructure as the cornerstone of our region's future, and the North Country Regional Economic Development Plan approved last year explicitly highlights the importance of rail, calling for the preservation and rehabilitation of all surviving rail lines in the Adirondacks," stated Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "That's why we and others jumped on board in the quest to obtain this federal clearance, and we thank Congressmen Bill Owens and Chris Gibson and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for their strong advocacy for approval. This will mean a further restoration of precious rail infrastructure in the Adirondacks and the direct support of jobs in an area where they are greatly needed. Onward, upward and on track for rail service to Tahawus and elsewhere in the region!"

Schumer, Gillibrand and Owens noted that recomissioning of the Tahawus line of the Saratoga and North Creek Railway between North Creek and Newcomb, will provide a critical shot in the arm for businesses along that line and the local economy as a whole. According to Iowa Pacific Holdings, about 15 to 20 people would be employed during reconstruction of the track, and the completed rail line would pump at least $160,000 into the local economy each year. The representatives also noted that once hauling begins again, it will create numerous additional long-term jobs. The company anticipates hauling 100 million tons of material and tailings from the Tahawus mine for this project. A great deal of these tailings contain Titanium remnants from mining at Tahawus during World War II, and Schumer, Gillibrand and Owens noted it would be a win-win to haul these unsightly mining remnants out of the Adirondacks and into local companies where tailings can be refined into rare earths that are widely utilized and desperately needed by high-tech and manufacturing companies across New York.

The railway's owner, Iowa Pacific Holdings, has been seeking common carrier status for months from the Federal Surface Transportation Board, and today's announcement means that this project can move forward and deliver a number of benefits to the local economy. The status will allow the railroad to haul freight from multiple businesses along the line. The federal board late last year denied the company's original application, which has since been altered to better meet the environmental concerns of certain stakeholders. Today's announcement means that the STB has approved of these changes. The lawmakers noted that the reconstruction of the Tahawus line would cut down the number of trucks required for this work, by an estimated 2 million truck loads over the course of the project, and would significantly reduce truck traffic and their harmful emissions in the Adirondacks.