Rail service coming to steel company’s Montoursville site

For many years, Jersey Shore Steel Co. has used trucks to haul its products from its Avis site to its Montoursville facility.

But that is soon to change.

Recently, the company was notified it is the recipient of $224,000 state funding to construct an 800-foot railroad spur feeding its Montoursville plant.

The State Transportation Commission voted earlier this month to approve nearly $35.9 million for 13 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and 26 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced that the rail freight improvement projects will help sustain nearly 34,000 jobs statewide.

“It’s great news,” said David Schultz, Jersey Shore Steel’s vice president of operations.

Some 22,000 tons of rail steel angle products manufactured at the company’s Avis plant are transported each year to the Montoursville facility for fabrication.

Company officials said Lycoming County officials and SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority worked with Jersey Shore Steel to make the funding happen.

SEDA-COG owns the tracks used by Lycoming Valley Railroad which brings rail freight service to the local area.

Nearby companies such as Hawbaker Engineering are already served by the rail line.

Jersey Shore Steel is expected to save money with rail service.

In addition, hauling materials by train will remove additional truck traffic from off of busy Route 220, Schultz noted.

“It benefits us and communities,” he said.

Terri Fry, vice president for Strategic Planning & Fabrication, noted that the Montoursville plant is experiencing growth, and rail service can only be of benefit.

“We have been very busy,” she said. “We run a three shift operation, six days a week. We have been very focused on bringing in new business.”

Rail steel angle products, she noted, are used in the furniture business and other industries.

Some of Jersey Shore’s clients include Ashley Furniture and La-Z-Boy.

“Bed frames are one of our largest markets,” she added.

Schultz explained that the company never really explored rail service until recently, simply because officials didn’t see a need for it.

“The volume changed. The market tends to change,” he said.

The Avis plant has long had rail service, but no changes in infrastructure will need to be done there, according to Fry.

Company officials expect to see the rail spur approaching the west end of the Montoursville plant to be completed by next year.

“It’s a good investment,” Fry said.