Joint Rail Authority observes its 20th anniversary

SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, Lewisburg observed its 20th anniversary last week in Bellefonte with an excursion to Beech Creek on the Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad, following a luncheon at the Gamble Mill Tavern.
Traffic on the Nittany & Bald Eagle line from Tyrone to Lock Haven during 2002 numbered some 11,572 rail cars. Jeff Stover, ececutive director, spoke of how SEDA-COG is dedicated to preserving essential rail freight service here in central Pennsylvania.
SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority came about in the early 1980s when central Pennsylvania was faced with rail abandaments that would have eliminated rail service to about 15 companies. SEDA-Council of Governments, an 11-county economic development agency, worked with shippers and local communities to see what could be done to preserve the lines, and most importantly, to keep the jobs that might otherwise be lost.
In 1984, 80 miles of railroad were acquired. The Authority engaged a private shortline company to operate the lines on the Nittany & Bald Eagle and North Shore railroads. Four years later, the Shamokin Valley Railroad was added.
The lines prospered and by 1996 when Conrail wanted to sell lines in Williamsport and Lewistown, the partnership was ready to to acquire the lines. This action resulted in the creation of the Lycoming Valley and Juniata Valley Railroads.
The five shortlines now provide service to 65 companies with more than 30,000 annual carloads.
Central Pennsylvania can count on having world-class rail freight transportation to meet the needs of existing industries and any challenges future new development may bring.