Rail yard organizers pleased with progress

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(Host) A year ago, in separate decisions, voters in Rutland City and Rutland Town decided to go forward with an $80 million plant to relocate the Rutland rail yard.

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, organizers are pleased with the progress that project has made.

(Keck) The idea is to move Rutland’s switching yard out of the downtown business district to a larger tract of industrial land in Rutland Town. Opponents have expressed concerns over wetland, wildlife and other environmental issues. Matthew Sternberg, Executive Director of the Rutland Regional Redevelopment Authority, has been spearheading the project. He says an environmental impact statement to be released next month should address those concerns.

(Sternberg) “And I feel confident that when the info is out there and people have an opportunity to think it through and ask questions, I think most of those problems will go away.”

(Keck) Sternberg says he’s not expecting to hear of any surprises which might derail the project. He says local officials are quite optimistic. Last summer, he says they hired a rail consultant to conduct a marketing study on the property.

(Sternberg) “We were quite pleased with the results he came back with. Many of the sites, especially those right around the proposed rail yard, are of a size and configuration that he feels would be very competetive. So much so that he felt we should not wait until the rail yard is completed to start marketing those.”

(Keck) Sternberg says the redevelopment authority plans to launch a targeted recruitment program this spring to find suitable businesses. So far the city has donated $20,000 for the project and Sternberg says they’re looking for partners in the region to join in.

(Sternberg) “I don’t want a situation where we build the switching yard and wait to see if anyone comes to use it. The recommendation in the report is there should be enough interest in the rail yard now that we should get going on recruitment now, so that there will not be that lag between the investment and the return for the community.”

(Keck) Sternberg cautions, however, that an $80 million project like this will take time. If the permitting, site acquisition and financing all go according to plan he says it will likely take at least another six to seven years to complete.

For VPR, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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