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Shell gets $3.8 million from state for railroad enhancements

 

Shell Chemicals has received nearly $4 million from the state to help the company perform improvements to a 10-mile stretch of railroad track between Aliquippa and Potter Township.

The money came from the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and the Rail Freight Assistance Program through the state Legislature.

In a news release announcing the money, Gov. Tom Wolf said Shell will receive $3.8 million “to transport construction materials for Shell’s plant and outbound products from the completed plant, which will improve the efficiency of operations and safety.”

Shell has been using a laydown yard, which is along the Ohio River in Aliquippa, to store material for the construction of the cracker plant in Potter. The company has been using trucks to transport materials back and forth between the two locations but will soon start using the rail lines.

Shell spokesman Joe Minnitte on Wednesday said the company hasn’t determined how or when it will spend the money for rail enhancements, but added that one aspect of the project will likely include a new railroad crossing intersection near the Beaver County Jail.

Regardless, he said the motive in going after the state funding is simple: Improvements to the rail line will eventually allow Shell to cut truck traffic by 80 percent between Aliquippa and Potter.

“During our conditional-use hearing, we became aware of heightened community concerns around increased truck traffic needed to transport materials from our Aliquippa storage facility to our project site, which caused us to act in finding a solution,” he said. “This grant, together with a much larger commitment from Shell, represents a collaborative effort between state government and private industry to provide both immediate and lasting benefits to the community.”

Not only will the rail line enhancements increase safety “for both our workforce and the public,” but it will serve as a permanent infrastructure upgrade in the area that “creates broader ongoing benefit beyond Shell’s temporary use,” he said.

Minnitte couldn’t offer details on when the enhancements could be made. He said Shell representatives will have to meet with state officials to determine the scope of the overall project.

All told, the state Legislature approved funding for 27 rail projects totaling $32 million. Wolf said the money will help retain about 400 jobs across the state.

“These investments underscore our continued commitment in building a world-class infrastructure system that supports the creation of new jobs and our business community,” he said in a release.

As chairman of the House Transportation Committee’s subcommittee on railroads, state Rep. Rob Matzie said he was happy to help secure the money.

Matzie, D-Ambridge, said Wednesday that investments like the one made with Shell help with “retaining jobs, creating jobs and improving the economy.”

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