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Rail rehab proposed for 42 miles of track

ROCHESTER — Work to improve a 42-mile stretch of track between Ossipee and Rollinsford will soon get underway if the Executive Council gives its blessing.

The project — which will be paid for by a combination of federal, state and railroad company funds — will expand the line by 0.7 miles in Ossipee. It involves the rehabilitation of two railroad crossings at the mill in Somersworth and realigning the junction on Acton Ridge in Wakefield.

NH Northcoast Railroad, which owns and operates the line, will be able to transport more sand, gravel and propane in 286,000-pound rail cars along the network. Dean Boylan, chief executive officer of Boston Sand & Gravel, which owns the railroad, has said the upgrades will help reduce traffic on area roads and expand opportunities near the end of the line in Ossipee.

Boylan said up to 700,000 pounds of materials in 30 rail cars is shipped three times a week on the stretch of track. The materials are processed and shipped south from the 2,400-acre Ossipee Aggregates site to a 21-acre facility in Rochester or via Pan Am Railways in Dover to Boston Sand & Gravel’s facility in Boston, Mass.

The project will be paid for by $1.4 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) program. NH Northcoast will provide $450,000, while the state will contribute $150,000 in matching funds.

“This also still has to be approved by New Hampshire’s Executive Council,” DOT spokesman Bill Boynton said.

The project was supported by members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, as well as U.S. Reps. Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter.

“The Northcoast line connects to the national freight rail network via Boston and is a vital transportation link for the Granite State. These repairs will complete a multi-year effort to modernize the rail line in partnership with local communities and the private sector,” Democrat Shea-Porter wrote in a news release.


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