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Massena Terminal Railroad signs on for improvement project

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MASSENA - The Massena Terminal Railroad signed a contract this week to move forward on a railroad improvement project that aims to strengthen Alcoa’s operations in Massena.

The signing comes after the state awarded the North Country Economic Development Council $1.6 million through Gov. Cuomo’s regional council initiative.

Alcoa officials said they are grateful to the council and Gov. Cuomo’s office for helping to fund the railroad improvement project.

“Alcoa fully supports the Massena Terminal Railroad’s efforts to improve the railroads with this project,” said Darcy Fargo, senior communications specialist for Alcoa. “It’s time for maintenance (on the rail), and this project will ensure that the goods are able to safely move from (Alcoa’s) Massena operations.”

The $2 million project will improve aging rail lines between Alcoa’s east and west plants. A bridge will be renovated; new rail, ties and ballast will be installed; and a new switch will be installed to improve the line’s connection with the CSXT railroad. Currently, trains have to travel at 10 mph along that section of the railroad, but once the project is completed, they will be able to safely move at speeds of 25 mph.

“The rail that’s there is now is getting fairly old, fairly deteriorated, which is why the trains have to go so slow,” according to Carol Breen, a public information for the New York State Department of Transportation. “This will make it safer for the people who operate the trains. (And) these new rails should last for 30 years if maintained.”

Work on the project will begin in April and be completed by the end of the year, according to Ms. Breen. Shipping between Alcoa’s plants will not be disrupted during that time, she said.

The project will primarily benefit Alcoa, but will also improve the operations of any other businesses that utilize that part of the CSXT. In turn, Alcoa has covered the project costs not funded by the state’s regional council initiative, and has worked in collaboration with the Massena Terminal Railroad on the engineering work of the project.

“Our engineers did a lot of the legwork in the project,” Ms. Fargo said.

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