Nelsonville Seeking Funding For Scenic Railway

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The city is seeking $500,000 in grant money from the Ohio Department of Transportation for maintenance work on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.

If the grant is obtained, there will be a local match requirement of $100,000 for those construction funds, plus the project includes $50,000 for engineering that is non-reimbursable, according to City Manager Mark Hall, who said the local costs would be covered by the railway.

“The city will not have any funds, zero percent, in this,” Hall said.

The project calls for replacement of two grade crossings — a single rail crossing at Laurel Run Road in Hocking County and a double rail crossing at Watkins Street in Nelsonville. Work also would be done on two bridges, one of which involves tie replacement and the other consisting of tie replacement and concrete rehabilitation. Although the application lists the bridge and crossing work as priorities, funds are also being sought for tie replacement at other locations.

City Council agreed to sponsor the project “for the reasons of economic development and education of the historic values of what railroads used to be,” the application states.

The railway is a tourist attraction for Nelsonville, drawing thousands of riders annually.

The Transportation Alternative Program provides funds for historic transportation preservation and for non-motorized transportation facilities, environmental mitigation and vegetation management.

The application deadline was May 4.

ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner said that $11 million is available statewide. He said applicants will learn in the first week of August if their projects have been funded.