Letterkenny Depot to get new railroad track

March 07, 1998


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Plans to convert part of the nearly 20,000-acre Letterkenny Army Depot to civilian use moved a small step closer Friday with the announcement of federal and state grants to upgrade nine miles of railroad track that run through the complex.

The money - $60,000 from the state's Rail Freight Assistance Program and $60,000 from the federal Highway Trust Fund - also will pay for improving eight rail crossings in the depot, said U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster who came on the base to announce the grants.

Shuster, R-Pa., is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"These funds continue my efforts to ensure that the redevelopment efforts of Letterkenny Army Depot are a first-rate success," Shuster said. "Rail service into the depot is an asset we need to improve."


The improvements will help Letterkenny attract business and industry that rely on rail service, including some Fortune 500 companies, he said.

The Army has agreed to turn over about 1,500 acres for economic development to Franklin County in phases.

The first phase, about 234 acres, should be in the county's hands by June, said Deborah Garvin, spokeswoman for the Letterkenny Industrial Reuse Authority, the local agency that was set up to bring industry to the base.

So far, according to Shuster, $2.8 million in federal grants are earmarked for the Letterkenny project.

In addition, said L. Michael Ross, economic development director for Franklin County, the state is putting up $700,000. That plus $250,000 in local funds to bring the total for the first phase of the Letterkenny makeover project to nearly $4 million.

Shuster projected 1,100 new jobs at the depot in five years or less.

So far, Garvin said, five companies have set up shop in temporary quarters on the base.

They include Excelsior Manufacturing, a garment maker employing about 185 workers, most of whom were displaced when the J. Schoeneman Co. plant closed last year.

Also two computer based firms, a truck-driving school and a firm that trains workers for area industries and businesses have also moved onto the base, bringing more than 200 jobs with them, Garvin said.

Ross said up to $20 million will be spent to phase in 1,500 acres at the depot to civilian use over the next 15 to 20 years.

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