By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2017
PERRY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Taylor County has been awarded a $8.67 million grant to upgrade railroads. The funds are to be used to rehabilitate 80 miles of railway between Foley, Florida and Adel, Georgia.
"Because we are the Forest Capital of the South, railroads have been the lifeblood of our community," said longtime Taylor County resident, Auley Rowell.
He lives near one of the oldest railroads in the county, and he is looking forward to it being repaired. Rowell said, "It'll make it safer, it'll make if faster. This little crossing right here doesn't have a signal. We're hoping to get a signal put at Shady Grove."
The grant is from the Florida Department of Transportation to help upgrade the county railroads, including new warning devices, crossing surfaces, and bridges.
The railway is vital for Georgia-Pacific cellulose plant to transport its products.
Scott Mixon, the public affairs manager at the Foley plant, said, "Initially, we were not involved in the process to secure the grant. But, we want to congratulate Congressman Dunn and Taylor County for securing the funds to upgrade the railway."
Local officials say the upgrades will make way for other businesses, which would bring in new jobs and boost the economy.
Taylor County Administrator Ted Lakey said, "Immediately, there will be people working on the railroad, as the old song went. There will certainly be people out there directly working on the crossings and putting in new rail, etc. Those will be jobs created that would be very much appreciated in this community."
Lakey added, "I think a lot of the families would like for their kids to stay in the community. But, there's not always that opportunity. So, we would love to increase manufacturing or other jobs, having more diverse economy and give these kids more of an opportunity to stay here in Taylor County."
Press Release: Congressman Neal Dunn's Office
Congressman Neal Dunn announced Friday that the Department of Transportation will award a federal grant of $8.67 million to Taylor County, Florida to rehabilitate 80 miles of critical railway between Foley, Florida and Adel, Georgia.
Congressman Dunn repeatedly urged the Department of Transportation to approve the grant application, which will strengthen the Taylor County economy.
"These railway improvements will mean improved economic and job opportunities in Taylor County, and I will continue to be a leading voice for the people I am honored to represent," Dr. Dunn said.
The improvements funded by the grant include upgrades to 19 warning devices at grade crossings, building 90 public and private grade crossing surfaces, hardening 16 bridges, and installing 70 crossties and 80 miles of rail. The Georgia & Florida Railway uses the line to connect the Georgia-Pacific cellulose mill near Perry, Florida to markets throughout the southeastern United States and beyond.
The funding is awarded through the federal Competitiveness & Employment by Rail (CEBYR) program.