Grant will cover Westmoreland, Fayette freight rail line improvements
Westmoreland County received a $1.5 million state grant for the second phase of a $3.9 million project to upgrade its 18-mile freight rail line from Hempfield to Connellsville.
The grant will pay for most of the $2.1 million cost to rehabilitate infrastructure , officials said. The railroad company will pay a 30% local match — more than $642,000 — for the upgrades, said county Planning Director Jason Rigone.
County officials bought the railroad in 1995 for $400,000 after freight companies stopped using the track. Although the county owns the real estate and track, it leases the freight train service to Oakmont-based private operator Carload Express, which runs the service as the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad.
The county received $1.07 million in 2017 to pay for the first portion of the rehabilitation project to replace eight miles of track, beginning just south of Hempfield.
Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad operates 66 miles of rail lines from Greensburg to Smithfield, south of Uniontown, Fayette County, according to the Carload Express website. SWP is situated at the confluence of the region’s major highways, which allows shippers to utilize our transload network (including the Westmoreland and Fayette Rail Freight Terminals)
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .