A state rail infrastructure grant could mean more jobs for a city manufacturer and increased business opportunities for other area companies if the application is approved.
Lycoming County commissioners approved applying for a $350,000 state Department of Transportation rail assistance grant Thursday on behalf of NuWeld, 2600 Reach Road, that would allow for greater use of a 20-ton crane at the plant's transloading facility.
Used in a limited capacity for about the past 30 years, the crane would be used to load and offload products at NuWeld, which specializes in mechanical services, including welding, engineering and fabrication for the nuclear, natural gas and power industries.
Mike Miller, of NuWeld, keeps an eye on a 20-ton overhead crane as he uses a remote to control it at NuWeld on Reach Road Thursday. Lycoming County commissioners and NuWeld hope to use a grant to open the crane up to railroad use. NuWeld uses the crane, but the railroad tracks to it need to be replaced.
The total $513,000 project could bring in 60 to 120 jobs if the grant is approved, according to company officials. NuWeld would be required to provide 30 percent of the total cost.
Caleb Derr, NuWeld contract administrator, said the project would expand the company's supplier base and make shipping and receiving products much more affordable.
"This is one of the components in an already diverse investment (plan)" at NuWeld, Derr said.
Other industries on Reach Road and beyond would have access to the crane and would benefit from additional shipping and receiving options.
Rail service into the facility would take numerous tractor-trailers off the highway, Derr added.
"Everything about it is more efficient," he said.
If approved, about 2,000 feet of old, half-buried rail line will be replaced.
Vincent J. Matteo, president and CEO of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the project at the commissioners' meeting on Thursday, saying it would help create and retain jobs.
"This project is the type of project that government should be involved in," he said.