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County inks rail contract

QUEENSBURY - The future of the Warren County rail line was solidified last Friday when the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to approve Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC as the new rail operator.

After months of deliberation and with the blessing of Warren County supervisors, Iowa Pacific anticipates that tourist and recreational trains will again be running on the tracks by July.

Newly named Saratoga and North Creek Railway, the tracks will soon reopen to freight. Iowa Pacific president, Ed Ellis was unsure, as of last week, when exactly the freight would resume.

The approval was not without concern from serveral supervisors at Friday's meeting. Some voiced worry about the possibility of derailments, resulting in freight being spilled into the Hudson River. As a result, no hazardous substances will be hauled on the line.

A public authority was also formed to manage and oversee the operations of both the new operator and the rail itself.

Once viewed as a tax burden in Warren County, the rail line has approached a new monetary deal under Iowa Pacific. They will be responsible for all track repairs up to $50,000, a required $5 million in insurance and the taxes, which amount to about $14,000 a year.

On the other hand, closing the line would be even more costly. Without a contracted operator, Warren County would be responsible for the repayment of close to $8 million in originally received for the establishment of the line.

In the beginning of negotiations, Ellis was considerate of the county's cost concerns.

"Our goal is for the railway not to cost Warren County a dime, but to be a benefit," he said.

Further, the deal guarantees the county will receive at least $82,000 in revenue during the first year of operation, compared to the $19,500 it received last year.

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