Pulaski Council Approves Appropriation for Rail Study

  The Pulaski County Council Monday night approved a motion to advertise for a $52,000 appropriation to allow a design engineer firm to conduct studies to find suitable locations to improve rail access in the industrial park in Pulaski County. Nathan Origer, executive director of the Pulaski County Community Development Commission, told the council that the county’s strategic plan – which had been composed in 2010 – calls for development of the agricultural-technology alternative-energy industrial park on the west side of the county, which would be served by rail.

Origer said that having proximity to a rail line is vital in encouraging industry to move to Pulaski County.

“As I’ve worked in this county, I’ve come to see that most of the potential we have for future growth on the industrial side is going to be in that part of the county. We’ve got 40 acres of Winamac that’s shovel-ready, and it’s surrounded by strong existing industry, but the fact is that more and more projects are requiring rail, close proximity to a four-lane highway, or both,” said Origer. (02-13-13 – Origer – Strong Existing Industry)

Unfortunately, Origer said it’s next to impossible to give an industry close access to a four-lane highway, so rail expansion in the county is ideal to entice new industry.

“Nowhere in the county can we give them close proximity to four-lane highway when that’s requested. Developing in the west side, we can give proximity to rail, and I’m quite certain that as fuel prices continue to be unstable and/or rising, we’re going to see fewer and fewer opportunities for even smaller-scale development that do not require rail,” Origer explained. (02-13-13 – Origer – Unstable Gas Prices)

To that end, Origer said he would like to have a design engineer firm conduct a study and compose a preliminary plan, which would include looking at prospective sites for rail expansion. Origer said the study would take into account the availability of utilities such as water, sewer, and electric; the size of the parcel; soil conditions; the conditions of surrounding roads; and how a rail spur or side to the existing CSX rail line could be constructed.

Origer told the council that the $52,000 would cover the cost of at least three to four prospective sites to be surveyed and studied. The council approved his request, but it must be advertised before it is finalized.