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'Laurel' undeserved

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Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

My wife and I enjoy many of this region's developed recreational trails. Converting abandoned railroad lines to trails makes good use of land assets. However, I disagree with “Greensburg Laurels & Lances” (Sept. 27 and awarding a “Laurel” to “Westmoreland County trailblazers.” In this case, a “Lance” is more appropriate.

The Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad is an economic asset that got away. Following devastating flooding in 2009, the Army Corps of Engineers approved a flood-control project that accommodated the railroad right of way, and repairs were made to the railroad in Export.

Strangely, that same agency prevented the operator, Durabond, from completing needed repairs along other parts of the line. That deserves a “Lance” in its own right; build something good for the railroad, but don't let it fix the rest?

The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. is usually on the right side of commercial and industrial development and has a good record of preserving rail service in the county. This time, having to sell the right of way to have the tracks removed is not serving its namesake or mission.

Yet millions of dollars will be spent to convert this green method of transportation to a dirt-road path. In an age of needed economic expansion, removal of our rail assets should not be awarded a “Laurel.”

James Falcsik


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