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Rail or trail?

An idle rail spur that connects to a manufacturing area on the city’s east side could eventually see use again.

Prior to the holidays, City Administrator Kent Hager met with Dave Thiel of the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation and Melissa Hunt from the State Department of Commerce. They discussed the future use of the railroad spur that once served the former Wolf River Lumber Company.

The rail spur has not been used for the past eight years.

The city purchased the line for salvage value from Canadian National Railroad in 2010, in order to keep rail access to city lands.

Last fall, the New London Parks and Recreation Committee considered ripping up the tracks and using the railroad bed for a trail connecting to the Newton Blackmour State Recreation Trail that ends at House Road.

At that time, Hager asked the committee for more time to discuss the matter with potentially affected businesses and the state. Hager has been an advocate for keeping the rail intact for future use.

He updated city council members on the status of that discussion in a Dec. 23 memo.

“It was agreed that we would submit an application to the state for a ‘Rail Line Rehabilitation or Construction Project’ grant,” said Hager.

If successful, it is an 80 percent grant with a 20 percent match.

Hager said he had an estimate done in 2009 for what it might cost to bring the rail segment back up to operational standards.

“At that time, one of every three ties replaced (1,080 ties out of 3,249) the estimated cost was $305,000,” said Hager. The estimate did not include the cost of bringing the railroad intersection at CTH S up to operational condition.

Hager reported that he has already started working on the grant narrative. The grant deadline is Feb. 1.

“We should know the future of the rail line fairly soon,” said Hager.

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