Rail spur project may add jobs
By John Faucher
New London was awarded a $384,000 rail grant Monday, Jan. 4.
The award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is one of seven grants announced Monday totaling more than $31 million in grants and loans through Wisconsin’s freight railroad assistance program.
Freight Railroad Preservation Program grants cover up to 80 percent of project costs to help preserve freight rail service or rehabilitate tracks on publicly owned rail lines.
The project will replace 1,100 ties and add 900 tons of ballast to approximately one mile of track. Two public road crossings also will be reconstructed. Rehabilitation of the spur track will reactivate rail access to Granite Valley.
Reactivating this spur will allow Granite Valley to bring in hardwood logs by rail from other states that are currently trucked to its facility, reducing the company’s shipping costs, and will enable the company to expand production at the site through addition of a sawmill, resulting in the hiring of an additional 15 full-time employees.
The city of New London purchased the rail spur from Canadian National Railroad in 2010 for net liquidation value of $90,000 in order to preserve the line and future rail access to developable land on the city’s east side.
The 5,000-foot long rail spur once saw as many 200 freight cars per year hauling lumber to Wolf River Lumber Company. In March 2010 Wolf River Lumber Company filed for receivership and the firm was acquired by Granite Valley Forest Products. In 2014, Granite Valley approached the city about possible assistance for an expansion, which would include use of the rail spur.
The rail spur is in need of repair and the crossing at CTH S needs to be re-built.
City Administrator Kent Hager began the process of applying for a WisDot FRPR grant in early 2015.
“This is great news indeed,” said Hager. “This is a tremendous opportunity to assist Granite Valley Forest Products as they take advantage of rail transportation for their business. Also important is that the completion of this project will assure rail service to the surrounding area if called for in the future.”