An independent feasibility study to explore the potential for a rail terminal in Erie County is being launched by a partnership composed of Erie County, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and PennDOT Engineering District 1-0.
The study will undertake an economic analysis and market evaluation to assess the viability of a rail terminal and its potential impact on the shipment of products and commodities to and from the region's businesses and industries.
"This study will help us determine if an intermodal rail facility is financially sustainable, will provide economic benefits to existing and future businesses, and if such a facility would be attractive for a rail carrier to provide service to in coming years," said Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County Executive. “Focusing on ways to make all modes of transportation more accessible to business and more cost effective for businesses in Erie County is a smart economic development strategy."
The study will initially focus on determining if there is a purpose and need for a terminal. The study will look at such things as the products that are potentially suitable for a terminal’s services, and the cost of transporting those products using truck or rail.
"Our first step will include a focus group meeting with Chamber members and other businesses in the region that potentially would ship products or provide cargo services using an intermodal rail facility. Their input will be critical to the reliability and value of the market analysis," said Jake Rouch, Vice President of Economic Development for the Erie Chamber & Growth Partnership.
"If a purpose and need is identified, analysis would shift to evaluating potential sites that might be suitable for a rail terminal facility…but only IF that purpose and need is confirmed," said Rouch.
Should the Project support a site search, Project sponsors would seek input from county residents and public officials during this process. An online survey would offer people the opportunity to suggest potential sites and identify interests and concerns.
A consultant team of McCormick Taylor, Inc. and TranSystems would review and analyze input received from the public. Also, a Technical Working Group of industry experts will serve in an advisory role throughout the process.
Once initial input is received from the public and the Technical Working Group, the study would size the facility based on anticipated need and then evaluate potential sites for community and traffic concerns.
"We would reach out to municipalities involved to identify their interest in a rail facility, and conduct public meetings. We intend to provide as many opportunities as possible to exchange information as the study evolves," said PennDOT District Executive Bill Petit.
The independent feasibility study is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015. Project materials will be made available on the Erie County and PennDOT District 1-0 websites.