Oct. 28—SCRANTON — Pennsylvania is making its first major investment, $3.7 million, to restore passenger rail service between Scranton and New York via the Poconos and New Jersey.
Funding from the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program would be matched with $3.7 million in federal dollars to install 43,000 new railroad ties on 40 miles of track between Delaware Water Gap and Gouldsboro on the Pocono Main Line, said Larry Malski, chairman of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority, which owns the rail line.
“We are very happy to see the state on board” the passenger rail project, Malski said. “This is the real start of the hardware we’ve been waiting for to start investing in the line.”
The rail authority will ask the federal government for the same amount, $3.7 million, to match the RACP, Malski said. The new railroad ties will allow trains to reach a maximum speed of 80 mph in certain straight, level areas needed for Amtrak Corridor service, Malski said.
The RACP funding is helping keep the project on track, said U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, D-8, Moosic.
“This award adds to the building momentum and is a critical step forward,” Cartwright said in a statement applauding the state funding. “A large and diverse group of supporters have come together to ensure that we maximize our efforts on this important economic development opportunity and it’s great to have the Pennsylvania executive branch on our side.”
Amtrak had previously estimated it would take three to five years to restore service. Installation of new sleepers won’t happen until next year, Malski said. The project will also require new signaling systems and other upgrades, he said.
“There’s a lot to do. Can it be done in three to five years? If the money is flowing, yes,” Malski said.
Funding for RACP was provided through the Monroe County Industrial Development Authority.
Meanwhile, Lackawanna County has received nearly $12.5 million in RACP funding for 14 projects, according to announcements from State Sen. Marty Flynn, D-22, Dunmore, State Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-112, of Blakely and State Representative Thom Welby, D-113, Scranton.
Lackawanna County funding and projects included:
—$2 million to 1100 Penn Avenue Development, Scranton, to completely renovate two buildings at a former manufacturing site to convert them into a mixed-use, residential and commercial complex.
– $1 million to Johnson College, Scranton, to construct a 2,500 square foot extension to Woolworth Hall, further work on the Transportation Education Center and the final construction of a new gateway building.
– $1 million to Lakeside NEPA Inc., Scranton, to expand inpatient rehabilitation and address mental health issues related to COVID-19.
— $1 million to the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania, Scranton, for extensive interior and exterior renovations to a 60-year-old building.
— $1 million to the Olyphant Small Business Expansion Project to construct an additional building and expand warehouse and office space.
— $1 million to Greenwood Hose Company No. 1, Moosic, for the construction of a fire/police building.
— $1 million to Abington Redevelopment to redevelop and expand the Abington Shopper Center at Clarks Summit and South Abington Twp.
— $1 million to Carbondale Development Partners Phase III for the construction of a medical/commercial building at 40 N. Church St.
— $975,000 to Biden Street Historic Renovation/Scranton Life Realty Inc. to repair the roof and facade of the Scranton Life building.
— $500,000 to the Covington Mall by JAC Realty for the construction of a 40,000 square foot mall on Route 435.
— $500,000 project at 333 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, to construct a six-story apartment complex with retail/commercial space at street level. Developer Charles Jefferson hopes to innovate on this project next year and has recently revised the concept designs. “It’s such a marquee place, it’s got to be a building that holds that corner,” he said.
– $500,000 to the Leonard Theatre, Scranton, to install an elevator to make the second floor theater accessible to people with disabilities. Charles Jefferson purchased this property in the 300 block of Adams Avenue several years ago with high hopes of making it a popular downtown location. “It’s a bit heavy, there’s no lift or shaft. We have to see where we’re going to put it,” he said.
— $500,000 to the Indo-American community of Scranton for the construction of a community center and a residential building.
— $500,000 to 105 Corner St., Dunmore, to renovate a large, old building, including replacing the roof and walls, and repurposing vacant land next door used for automobile storage.
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