County Redevelopment Authority Selling Unused Railroad Lines
BILL WELLOCK / CITIZENS VOICE / PUBLISHED: MARCH 21, 2017
WEST PITTSTON — About eight miles of unused railroad line in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties is up for sale.
The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to vote today whether to approve a sale, but authority executive director Andrew Reilly said he will suggest the board table that action.
An engineer with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation suggested the authority seek to have the rail officially declared abandoned before a sale, Reilly said.
The authority had been working toward that designation, but it had also requested proposals from bidders who wanted the scrap metal.
Keystone Rail Recovery of Knoxville, Tennessee, was the highest bidder, and submitted a $286,500 bid for the work, which involves dismantling section of railroads and other rail material for scrap.
The company outbid A.R. Popple Construction of Wilkes-Barre, Barnegat Trading LLC of Forked River, New Jersey and Trackside Rail Services of Charleroi.
The authority wants to sell about 44,000 feet of railroad track in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties:
- 9,500 feet from state route 502 to Montage Mountain Road
- 10,000 feet from Suscon Road to Tariff Road
- 17,323 feet from a flood control project in West Wyoming to Pringle Street in Kingston. This also includes a spur to Mid-State Lumber in Kingston.
- 6,000 feet from West Sixth Street, Wyoming to Bridon American Corporation, Stevens Lane, Exeter.
- 800 feet at two rail piles in Wilkes-Barre.
Some sections the authority put up for bid haven’t been used in two decades. The rails are heavy, but some of it has been stolen, Reilly said.
Authority board member Scott Linde walked one of the sections up for sale, the stretch from to state route 502 to Montage Mountain Road.
“The track doesn’t look all that terrible, but it’s not going anywhere,” he said.
Linde supports rails to trails groups, and thinks the unusued rail lines could make good recreation facilities someday. The section he walked travels through woods between Rocky Glen Pond and the Glenmaura National Golf Club.
The Luzerne and Susquehanna Railway Corporation is the rail operator on rail lines in the county owned by the authority.
The company “tell us there is no potential to find additional service that would be economical along them,” Linde said. “And obviously, it’s to their advantage to not shut down anything that they can use to service somebody with. We asked them to do this so we wouldn’t have the rail stolen, and I think it may be the first step needed in order to take a serious look at whether they can be linear corridors for either utilities or recreation.”