• More Industrial Development near WNYP trackage in Corry PA

  • Discussion pertaining to the past and present operations of the LAL, the WNYP, and the B&H. Official site: LALRR.COM.
Discussion pertaining to the past and present operations of the LAL, the WNYP, and the B&H. Official site: LALRR.COM.

Moderator: Luther Brefo

  by railwatcher
Exerpt from Corry Journal, full story available online:

Corry eyes progress at former Cooper Ajax site
By Stephen Sears

The southeast corner of the Cooper-Ajax building in downtown Corry looks like a half-finished geometry project.

With the siding gone from its back and side walls, steel girders can be seen angling in every direction inside the massive structure.

But soon the 210,000-square-foot building at West Washington Street and First Avenue will take a new shape.

Workers could begin putting up new siding in about three weeks. And by summer’s end, that siding could gleam with a shimmering coat of fresh paint.

The improvements to the vacant building and the surrounding property are part of a plan to turn a once-rundown city block into an attractive magnet for new jobs.

Rick Novotny, an economic specialist for Corry Redevelopment Authority, is pleased with the progress.

“In eight months, we’ve eliminated blight, created the potential for new jobs, created additional parking, and soon there will be an aesthetically pleasing entryway into the community,” Novotny said.

Corry Industrial Benefit Association bought the complex from Cooper-Cameron Corp. of Houston in September 2005. Since then, CIBA has spent about $500,000 has been spent to improve the property.

Those improvements included razing about seven connected buildings, having water and soil tested for environmental hazards, and separating the jumble of electrical lines that once connected all the buildings.

The cornerstones of the project are the Cooper-Ajax building, which contains about 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and the 11,500 square-foot Cooper-Ajax office building that faces North Center Street.

The larger building could hold between 60 and 120 workers, depending on what kind of business it is used for, Novotny said. Although one potential tenant has shown interest, no contracts have been signed, Novotny said.

“We have an interested party,” Novotny said. “That’s all we can say. It’s not a done deal.”

Steel siding has been ordered and will be installed by Kessell Construction of Bradford when it arrives, Novotny said.

“This will soon be a secure building once again,” he said.

A new roof was put on the office building in November. Still, the building needs repairs to the back wall, new ceilings and wallpaper, and new heating and air-conditioning systems, Novotny said.

Novotny believes the building would be ideal for professional offices or a telephone call center, which could handle telemarketing or technical support.

More improvements to the former Cooper property are also on the way, thanks to two $198,000 federal Economic Development Incentive grants, Novotny said.

The money, which hasn’t been released yet, will help pay for landscaping to make the property more attractive, he said.

Plans are to level much of the land where buildings once stood, create parking spaces, improve drainage and add greenery.

“As a worst-case scenario, bulldozers should have the land somewhat leveled off and the land should be seeded by September or October,” Novotny said.

Fencing, perhaps cut in the shape of a train to honor Corry’s railroad heritage, is also in the works.

  by pablo
Is this property adjacent to the WNYP tracks, or to the GWI tracks? I thought it was the GWI.

Dave Becker

  by roc
Yes, it is along the B&P, but the EL serviced the plant in question via a runner from the East side of the diamond. Or, at least, I remember Steve saying as much in an earlier post on the subject.

  by Corry Railfan
Some of the old rails can be followed beside Corry contract parking lot and beside the building! You can pick the rails up again after crossing Center St. beside what is still remaining of Ajax!

  by bwparker1
An article on the recent passenger special that ran from Corry to Meadeville:

Article published Jun 27, 2006
Revived rail line keeps area economy on track

William Burt, president and chief operating officer of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad, stands on the back of the restored 1884 office car that carried officials on a ride from Corry to Meadville Monday. The WNY&P was credited with providing the rail service that has kept locan industries in Corry and Meadville competitive. (Jim Carroll / Erie Times-News)

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By Jim Carroll
[email protected]

CORRY - A rail line that was once targeted for abandonment is paying big dividends to industries from Corry to Meadville.

"The fact is, it makes us much more competitive and that helps keep jobs in the U.S.," said Ron Walters, president of Corry-based Erie Plastics, during a small gathering Monday to mark the rail line's progress.

Jim Lang, vice president for procurement for Dad's Pet Products in Meadville, shared that sentiment.

"Inbound rail service is critical, not only to our ability to grow the Meadville complex, but frankly to our ability to stay here," he said.

The line is the 188 miles of track that the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad operates from Meadville to Hornell, N.Y. Pennsylvania's stretch runs from Corry to Meadville.

Much of the rail line was largely in mothballs when the WNY&P took it over in 2001 and started rehabilitation work.

"When we came out in 2001 and said we have a plan to put this line back into service, the only thing that was happening out here was the sound of rust forming on the rails," said Gene Blabey, WNY&P chief executive.

The gathering was called Monday to give officials and employees of Erie Plastics and the WNY&P a chance to recognize U.S. Rep. Phil English for his role in gaining the federal short-line railroad rehabilitation tax credit. The event was followed by a ride from Corry to Meadville.

The tax credit helped the WNY&P come up with the local matching money it needed to take advantage of state transportation grants and launch a $3.5 million rehabilitation project that started in 2005 and continues this year.

"This tax credit provided northwestern Pennsylvania the shot in the arm it needed to revitalize its rail system, boost local economic development and maintain critical jobs in our region," English said.

The $250,000 rail siding that Erie Plastics installed in 2005 on the WNY&P line proved its worth when Hurricane Katrina interrupted truck shipments of the Texas resins that the company uses to make 30 million molded plastic parts a day.

"There were molders out there that absolutely could not get resin because there was a shortage of truck drivers," Walters said. "Any material that was coming in by truck was almost impossible to get here, but we have this rail supply and we were able to get all the materials in here on time and keep this plant going."

One rail car can haul the equivalent of four tractor-trailer loads of resin, and Erie Plastics uses 70 to 80 million pounds of it a year. Walters said 85 percent to 90 percent of the company's resins now arrive by rail.

In Meadville, Dad's has big plans for expansion, and Lang said that hinges on frequent and reliable rail service to haul in wheat, rice and corn. Dad's has had rail service, but the WNY&P has added needed frequency.

Dad's buys as much local corn as it can, but when harvest yields are low, it has to look farther afield.

"We are on the eastern edge of the eastern edge of the Corn Belt," Lang said. "Sometimes we need to pull in corn from much farther away, and rail is the most economical way to do that."

The other big customer on the WNY&P's Corry-to-Meadville stretch is the Lord Corp. plant in Saegertown.

Blabey said in all there are about a half dozen customers on the line, including small and occasional shippers.

"We hope to add more in the near future," Blabey said.

In December, the WNY&P negotiated a lease with Norfolk Southern Corp. to operate the 45.25 miles of rail line that goes from Meadville through Franklin and Oil City to Rouseville Borough in Venango County.

JIM CARROLL can be reached at (814) 724-1716, 870-1727 or by e-mail.

Time Line for the WNY&P
1991: Former eastern U.S. rail giant Conrail quits operating the Meadville-to-Hornell line and announces plans to abandon the 42-mile stretch from Corry to Meadville.

1995: The Northwest Pennsylvania Rail Authority forms to serve as caretaker for the Meadville-to-Corry line and, with state support, buys it from Conrail.

2001: The Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad offers to buy the line and announces plans to restore through traffic from Meadville to Hornell, N.Y.

2002: On March 5, the WNYP made the first railroad run in 11 years between Meadville and Falconer, N.Y.

2003: A train makes a test run from Meadville to Hornell in mid-August. WNY&P adds more traffic on the Corry-to-Meadville segment.

2004: First coal train debuts on WNY&P line.

2005: WNY&P leases tracks from Norfolk Southern to run from Meadville to Franklin, Oil City and Rouseville in Venango County.

  by pablo
I suppose the WNYP could still do that, but it seems more likely to do it via the closest track. I suppose it could be argued that the runner could also serve as a team track, but there's plenty of that in Corry, and you'd be creating another croissing, I think.

Dave Becker

  by railwatcher
When preparing this I took a look at Microsofts Streets & Trips to see what the proximity to the railroads was from the buildings, as I don't know Corry that well. Both railroads were shown although not labeled so I was not 100% sure it would be WNYP or GWI trackage, but its such good news and so positive to the Corry area that whether a new industry uses either railroad, it's still good for the economy.

The added info that Brooks supplied has shown how intelligent the area businesses have been. To get back into using railroads, to improve or to make their businesses more profitable and attractive to growth. With that being said, I would also like to note that the businesses East of Cuba have been "missing the boat." Several companies could be making good use of the WNYP and aren't. In Wellsville, alone, there is a 3 or 4 track yard that they havent had much need to use.


  by pablo
I'm not sure what businesses in Wellsville exists aside from Preheater that could use the railroad, but I do know that Pennsylvania companies have been very active about trying to get the railroad service back, or using it for the first time.

Erie Plastic comments about how Katrina hurt other non-rail-using companies is a perfect example.

I do know that Cuba provides a great example for people in New York east of Kennedy, NY, and that's always a positive.

Dave Becker

  by Corry Railfan
Pablo you are correct, it would create another crossing north of the GWI rails! I agree with you that it makes more sense to use the rails closer!

  by railwatcher
In Wellsville, albeit they arent right on the tracks, how about an oil company, a large construction company with locations in Wellsville and Alfred Station, a pipe line company, a couple of Lumber companies, and Dresser Rand. That would be just a few that come to mind.
It is good to see Corry putting faith and dollars into its industries to keep it alive. Years ago I did alot of business at an auto auction in Corry, I travel there once a week, and thought it was really descent area.


  by railwatcher
What others are saying...........

From the Meadville Tribune:

Local rail upgrades boost area firms

By Keith Gushard

$666,666 in federal tax credits to provide necessary matching funds.

The railroad and Erie Plastics on Tuesday honored Republican Congressman Phil English for his sponsorship of the tax credit legislation. English¹s district includes Crawford and Erie counties.

The credit provides short line railroads like the WNY&P a federal income tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar invested up to 3,500 times the railroad¹s total mileage. The credit allows WNY&P to provide a little more than $1 million to match the $3.5 million in state investment.

"Communities like Corry, Union City or Meadville can compete only if they have infrastructure in place," English said."They need to have rail access." English said rail service is an important economic stimulus for northwestern Pennsylvania by retaining firms like Dad¹s, Lord and Erie Plastics.