The proposed sale of 8.11 miles of unused steel rail from Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority train tracks is off the table.
Authority board members unanimously voted last week to reject the sale, said authority Executive Director Andrew Reilly.
The authority management had pursued the proposal to sell the rail for scrap to generate revenue and prevent future theft losses. Luzerne Susquehanna Railway Co., which maintains and operates the authority’s 55 miles of track, has discovered sections of abandoned rail removed by thieves in Pittston Township and other areas.
Knoxville, Tennessee-based Keystone Rail Recovery offered the highest price to buy the scrap — $286,500.
However, authority members heeded county Councilman Rick Williams’ warning that the underlying land could revert back to the original property owners if the rail line is removed, stifling a future goal to bring passenger train service from New York City to Scranton and then Wilkes-Barre.
Title searches of all slivers of land taken when the track was built many years ago would be necessary to determine if the authority would lose its claim, which would cost tens of thousands of dollars, authority Solicitor Garry Taroli has said.
Authority board members are considering hiring an independent rail consultant to review the condition of the abandoned rail and future reuse options for the impacted transportation stretches, Reilly said.
Reilly said he will prepare a draft request seeking consultants.
The scattered spans proposed for removal are in the Dupont area from Suscon Road to Tariff Road, along Murray Street through the Forty Fort and Kingston areas, near the Bridon America plant in Exeter to Sixth Street in Wyoming and in Lackawanna County from Route 502 to Montage Mountain Road.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.
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