Within as little as two months, Nicholasville-based RJ Corman Railroad Group expects to start an extensive project to renovate railroads in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The project, financed primarily by federal stimulus money, is expected to create 50 federal transportation jobs in Kentucky to do the repairs.
The Appalachian Regional Short Line project calls for bridge repairs and the replacement of thousands of ties, said Noel Rush, vice president of strategic planning and development for the company.
The project has been approved for $17.5 million in federal stimulus money, with the bulk of that — $12.96 million — going toward work in Kentucky, according to a statement from Gov. Steve Beshear's office. The company is putting up $3.04 million and the state government is contributing $200,000, the statement said.
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The plan calls for improvements to nearly 250 miles of railroad track in Kentucky along RJ Corman's Central Kentucky, Bardstown and Memphis lines. The work will take place in 12 counties: Fayette, Clark, Franklin, Scott, Woodford, Bullitt, Jefferson, Logan, Nelson, Shelby, Todd and Warren.
Those Kentucky lines serve 81 customers and carry more than 28,500 outbound carloads of goods, according to the statement.
Rush said the improvements might have the effect of more companies moving to be near the improved tracks, and more jobs at the railroad company in the long term because it could mean more railroad cars traveling along the improved sections.
"We're just excited to get started," he said.