DANVILLE — A state agency approved a $1 million grant to improve truck and rail access at the former Metso Minerals property in Danville.
The state Department of Community and Economic Development allocated the grant earlier this week to Montour County through Driving Real Innovation for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) — the economic development council serving Montour and Columbia counties.
The project was among 106 approved Tuesday, according to DCED spokesman Michael Gerber.
The $1 million grant comes from the Multimodal Transportation Fund, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
According to DCED, Montour County partnered and leased transportation assets with SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority and DRIVE to improve rail and truck access to the DRIVE industrial park. The goal is to rehabilitate the brownfield site with improved truck and rail access. The project consists of repaving the entire roadway from Wall Street, moving and expanding the railroad crossing to two lanes, constructing a new access road into the Plate Ship, raising the rail bridge over Sechler Run, drainage improvements, and constructing a new rail turnout. The project will reduce the impacts of flash floods and create a marketable industrial facility that can support several new manufacturers.
Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn, who serves on the DRIVE board, commended Executive Director Jennifer Wakeman and her staff “who worked very hard to secure this grant to bring in new jobs and retain jobs in Montour County.”
Wakeman said the rail improvements will be used by a lumber company that fireproofs wood for the construction industry. The company is expected to occupy the former plate shop, at the Metso property off Railroad Street that DRIVE purchased in December 2017.
“I’m thrilled,” she said of the rail siding off Wall Street that will be installed so the customer can ship by rail and potentially outgoing shipments as well. “I felt good about our application,” she said. DRIVE will own the rail access.
Montour County partnered with DRIVE to apply for the grant so a match wouldn’t be required.
The SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority and North Shore Railroad each will be contributing $25,000 to the project, she said.
Also included will be improvements to an access road on the Metso property.
Part of the project will help alleviate flooding in Danville and on the DRIVE property, she said.
“We will need to put in new crossings,” she said of the rail bridge at Sechler Run where the trusses are thick and deep and choke part of the creek.
We will be raising the railroad I believe one foot and using different metal on the bridge so it doesn’t sit down into the raceway and it will bring the bridge up and the railroad up. This will create space underneath the bridge to eliminate flash flooding when it rains a lot, she said.
Tim Hippensteel, DRIVE office and project manager, said North Shore announced the grant award in its recent newsletter.