LOCK HAVEN - In support of First Quality Tissue’s upcoming third plant that will create about 184 new family-sustaining jobs, the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) partnered with local and state entities to help the plant come to fruition.
A broad base of support was shown by funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, coordination by the Governor’s Action Team, collaboration by the Clinton County Economic Partnership, and a creative solution to a truck access problem by the JRA.
Plans for this plant had been hindered by difficult truck access through a residential area. Additional rail facilities were needed, as well. The JRA created a solution for this dual problem: The JRA is building a road for trucks to access the plant and constructing new railroad tracks to increase capacity and service the new plant.
“This was a unique solution to a problem which helped make the plant a reality,” said Jeff Stover, JRA executive director.
The 3,840-foot road the JRA is building addresses traffic congestion issues that have plagued Lock Haven for years. Instead of using city residential streets, nearly all First Quality truck traffic, up to 200 tractor-trailers per day, will use the new road.
To make room for the new two-lane road that trucks will use to access all three plants, the JRA will shift the Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad main line 11 feet. Upon completion, portions of the new road will be conveyed to the city and township.
The JRA is also building 5,783 feet of new railroad tracks to increase capacity and to service the new plant, all in anticipation of additional First Quality Tissue railroad traffic.
Total projected cost for the combination rail and road project is $4.6 million, funded by the $3 million Multimodal Transportation Fund grant, and First Quality paying the remainder.
A temporary haul road has been built next to the existing rail line to accommodate the thousands of trucks needed to bring in the material to build the new plant’s foundation. This diverts the trucks from the downtown during construction. The JRA and Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad partnered with G. O. Hawbaker to construct the road.
The road and railroad improvements will go to bid this winter with construction planned for the spring.
In 2003, First Quality acquired the 100-year-old paper-making complex, formerly International Paper, and cleared the way for its two current plants that make super-premium paper towels and bath tissue.