• RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

  • Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.
Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

Moderator: Franklin Gowen

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  by jrevans
As reported on the Lansdale area yahoo mailing list, we now know where the new Shelly's distribution facility is going to be in Quakertown.

It is in the process of being built in the old "brick factory" adjacent to the old Northbound main. Roadwise, I think it's off of Heller Road, or Walnut Bank Farm Lane (according to my Bucks County atlas). In between the crossing at Mill Street and the bridge over Pumping Station Road.

Here is the quote from the mailing list:
Lon wrote: The steel has been unloaded and Haines and Kibblehouse is doing site work and demo. The old brickyard buildings will be used where possible. New roofs will be put on existing buildings. There is still prep work to be done before the new steel is erected.
I imagine that this will be another nice boost in traffic for the EPRY. They are already moving a decent amount of cars for the roofing company, and this will be even better. Maybe I'll actually be able to hear the trains working a little bit up the hills. :-)

  by SteelWheels21
Just bumping the thread up. Anything new going on?
  by jrevans
Definitely more good news for the EPRY! The roofing plant has been doing a lot of shipping by rail recently, and this will mean even more.

I stopped by on my motorcycle a few weekends ago, and was suprised to watch a trackmobile moving cars around on a Sunday. (The trackmobile looked like it was really struggling to push a single short hopper up the grade to the plant.) I counted at least twelve short, covered hoppers there that day.

I tried to see across the tracks at the old Brick Factory where Shellys is building their new distribution center, but couldn't see much. There was a big crane over there, so I guess they were doing some steel erecting work.

In Quakertown itself, the passenger station restoration is coming along nicely. The new roof is finished, and it looks like they put some new concrete in around the platform. The station walls looked pretty clean too. I just paused by the side of the road, so I didn't get a good look. The EPRY 57 (RS1) was looking in sad shape, with what appears the be the side radiator removed, leaning against the handrail. I wonder what its status is?

Here's the Mcall article about the roofing plant expanding:


http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-b4_ ... 9628.story

Text here, since Mcall articles die quickly:


Roofing manufacturer wants to expand, operate Richland plant
GAF Materials Corp. seeks height variance for $70 million project.

By Charles Malinchak
Special to The Morning Call

GAF Materials Corp., a nationally recognized roofing manufacturer, is planning a $70 million project that would expand a manufacturing facility off California Road in Richland Township.

GAF officials presented the plans Thursday night before the township Zoning Hearing Board, where they sought variances to height limits. The board was still hearing the matter late Thursday.

The estimated $70 million investment would be aimed at renovating an existing roofing manufacturing plant once owned by the Georgia Pacific Corp. and more recently by Atlas Roofing. The building is located on Pacific Drive in the township's industrial zone.

William Collins, chief executive officer of Building Materials Corporation of America, of which GAF is a subsidiary, said the company plans to renovate the facility to produce laminate shingles, also known as architectural or dimensional shingles.

GAF already operates an roofing underlayment manufacturing operation on Pacific Drive and in April, purchased the former Atlas plant with the intent of expanding manufacturing, said John Rice, a Doylestown lawyer representing GAF.

The expansion, said Collins, would mean the creation of about 96 union jobs plus a potential boon to local businesses in as a source of building materials.

Collins said the company also plans to use the existing East Penn Railways for deliveries of raw materials such as asphalt and colored granulated stone.

Several residents raised questions about the potential for increases in noise and air pollution as well as more truck traffic.

William *, GAF executive director of engineering, said the plant will have a thermal oxidizer which basically inhales and incinerates all the fumes from the manufacturing process.

''It takes care of all the fumes,'' he said.

The renovated plant would include more storage silos, tanks and a conveyor for moving dry materials into the plant. All of the new buildings exceed the township's 35-foot height limit but the existing building already exceeds it.

Rice said the existing building is 162,000 square feet and GAF would add 65,000 square feet. The site is 24 acres.

GAF is based in Wayne, N.J., and operates 27 roofing manufacturing plants in the United States.

Charles Malinchak is a freelance writer.
  by jrevans
Sounds like good news for the railroad, as long as the land development plan is approved.


http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-b1_ ... slocal-hed

Richland zoners OK roofing plant expansion
GAF Materials Corp. still must have its land development plan approved by township supervisors to proceed with $70 million in construction.

By Charles Malinchak, Special to The Morning Call

The Richland Township zoning board has approved several variances needed for a $70 million expansion proposed by a roofing manufacturer operating near California Road.

GAF Materials Corp., a nationally recognized manufacturer, went before the board on Thursday seeking variances for building heights, driveway widths and construction on steep slopes.

The variances were granted, and the company should receive written approval from the board within 45 days, said Richard Brittingham, assistant township manager and zoning officer.

To proceed with the project, Brittingham said, the company needs to have its land development plan approved by township supervisors. Those plans could be presented to the supervisors this month.

GAF, of Wayne, N.J., has 27 manufacturing facilities throughout the country and plans to enlarge its plant near California Road in the township's industrial zone to produce laminated, or architectural grade, roofing shingles.

The company has been producing roofing underlayment, or tar paper, at its Pacific Drive plant, but earlier this year, company officials said, it purchased a building adjacent to it that used to make lesser grade shingles. That building originally was owned by the Georgia-Pacific Corp., and more recently, Atlas Roofing.

At last week's hearing, company officials said they plan to renovate that building to make the laminated shingles, which will require enlarging the building and constructing silos, hoppers and a conveyor system to move and store materials.

The company also plans to use the rail line, operated by East Penn Railways, to deliver manufacturing materials like asphalt and granulated stone.

Once completed, the plant would be 233,470 square feet. The company plans to hire nearly 100 more union employees. The underlayment plant employs 36.

The variances will allow the company to exceed the township's minimum building height requirement of 35 feet and driveway width rule from 35 to 45 feet. Buildings are 50 feet tall, and a smokestack that will be used is 100 feet tall.

Brittingham said any building constructed near the property line will be required to have a setback of 11/2 times its height. For example, if a silo is 30 feet tall, he said, it would have to be built 45 feet from the edge of the property.

During the hearing, residents expressed concern about noise and environmental hazards. Pat Booth, who has lived near the plant for at least 50 years, said she had problems with noise and fumes from previous owners. Since GAF took over, said Booth's daughter, Marguerite Keller, those problems have been alleviated, but she is concerned because the new operation will be larger.

William *, GAF executive director of engineering, said the plant would comply with rules set by the state Department of Environmental Protection. He also said that any exhaust from the plant would pass through a thermal oxidizer, which he said inhales and incinerates most fumes.

Charles Malinchak is a freelance writer.

  by Pacobell73
Is the track through Bethlehem gone yet? Is it all over? :(

  by glennk419
The tracks through South Bethlehem were still mostly intact as of a few weeks ago.

  by Pacobell73
Good. Every day the rails are in place is a good thing. I will be the first to lay across the tracks when NS comes to remove them. I protested enough during the recent election (but still lost to George W. Christ). I still have the umph in me to protest against NS.
Last edited by Pacobell73 on Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

  by RDGAndrew
The Intelligencer ran a story on Sun. 12/19 about how homeowners around Quakertown are distressed by the increased traffic on the EPRY. They are shocked to find that moving to "the country" is no guarantee that population and commerce will not follow them. The worst offender, though, was the paper, whose photographer got several pictures of concerned mothers standing in the gauge of the track. In one shot they are practically leaning against the coupler of a covered hopper. I wrote to the Intel to protest their lack of judgement (i.e., expressing the parents' concern that kids might trespass and then setting up a photo op on the tracks). I doubt they got the EPRY's permission to do the shoot...

  by glennk419
Ah, the NIMBY's attack again. It's amazing that the railroad has been there for over 100 years but these people just noticed!!??? I haven't seen the article, I wonder if the railroad could have THOSE people cited for tresspassing?

  by Pacobell73
We live in a society that sees railroads as a thing of the past, an imposition on the present. True, the railroad's heyday has long since passed, but the government (in their infinite wisdom) should take a lesson from Europe.

  by glennk419
I just read the article, how moronic. Rather than teaching the kids that it's trespassing to "cross the tracks to the soccer field", they blame the railroad that's been around 4 times longer than they have. The comments about trains running at all hours of the day and night were amusing as well (although some of us wish that was the case). And the icing, I guess they'd rather have those 30 trucks a day rumbling down their roads at 55 MPH than a few railcars flying along at 15.

OK, I surrender my soapbox. Arrrggggghhh!
  by Franklin Gowen
On Mon Dec 20, 2004 9:04 pm, glennk419 wrote:
The tracks through South Bethlehem were still mostly intact as of a few weeks ago.
It is my sad duty to report that this is no longer the case. :(

Norfolk Southern has since removed the rails along an area from the Hayes St. grade crossing, uphill past block limit "HEM", under the 4th St. Bridge, and apparrently all the way to the Lynn St. bridge & the PB&NE RR interchange at Iron Hill. Ballast is intact, and most of the ties are still in place. But the running rails have been lifted off of the trackbed.

I made the above observations this afternoon at 2:45PM. Coincidentally, I was on my way out of southside Bethlehem on Rt. 412 South after having just photographed the Branch's still-intact (for how long?) portion at the S. New Street grade crossing!

At this rate, it will not be long before there is no longer a Bethlehem Branch in the city of Bethlehem.

Sorry to have such a crappy revelation as my first 2005 addition to this thread. :(

  by glennk419
:( :( :( :( :( :( :(
  by Pacobell73
It is the end of an era. Thanx, SEPTA, NS, City of Bethlehem. :(

  by Urban D Kaye
The railfan is always one part pallbearer. I always keep a dark suit handy.

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