Ohio Rail Development Commission Approves Federal Grants

 In Blog

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved federal grants for several rail projects.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved federal grants to JSW Steel USALouis Dreyfus Company, and Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway. In addition, the Commission has partnered with the Kanawha River Railroad and Norfolk Southern “on a December 2022 submission to the federal Railroad Administration and was recently notified the project was approved.”


The ORDC approved $1 million to go toward two on-site rail projects at JSW’s Mingo Junction Facility. These two projects are in part of a $145 million expansion at the facility “which will allow JSW to better serve the renewable energy and infrastructure sectors.” The two projects are estimated to cost $5.1 million in total and will go toward “JSW’s finished product and scrap processing capacity.” In turn, JSW will be able to keep 400 jobs and create 26 new ones.

The first project will expand Norfolk Southern/Wheeling & Lake Erie shared yard and “expand capacity from 184 car spots to 351.” The project also includes the installation of an interplant loop track for “internal logistics.” The second project will expand JSW’s infrastructure for scrap and iron storage and handling yard on the south side. It will include the installation of 3,360 linear feet of track and four rail switches. This will “maintain the scrap processing volumes required to support 125,000 tons of slap production monthly.”

COO of JSW Steel USA Mingo Junction, Jonathan Shank, said: “Rail transportation is one of the many aspects that are integral to everyday business operations and is vital to the steel industry. We look forward to our partnership with the ORDC which gives us confidence to continue to invest in Ohio Valley. Investing in our infrastructure will facilitate successful completion of our growth projects.” Executive Director of the Rail Commission, Matthew Dietrich echoed Shank’s sentiments and maintained that the Commission’s goal is “to support our partners at JobsOhio and the Jefferson County Port Authority to promote investment and employment opportunities in the region. JSW’s continued growth and success in the region is a testament to its commitment toward the future.”

Louis Dreyfus Company

Louis Dreyfus Company, or LDC, is a manufacturer of agricultural goods worldwide. The Upper Sandusky facility is where soybeans are processed into various soybean products including “tofu, edamame, soy nuts, spouts, miso, and soy sauce.” The ORDC approved $125,000 to go to Louis Dreyfus Company in order to assist with rail infrastructure deemed “necessary for the construction of a new soybean processing facility near Upper Sandusky, Ohio.” The facility costs $541 million and requires “significant” rail. In addition, LDC will hire 114 new employees and create 500 new railcars of traffic.

Dietrich said this project is “an excellent example of how public and private partnerships can work in tandem to assist companies expanding in Ohio. The new rail infrastructure will be a tremendous asset to Louis Dreyfus to move its products and will result in less truck traffic on Ohio’s highways. We are pleased to assist this company and support their efforts in the region.”

Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway

A $264,000 grant was approved by the ORDC to go toward the Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway, NDW. In addition, the Commission authorized staff to administer a CRISI grant. According to the report, there were a total of $10,792,000 in CRISI funds, “with $4,361,000 in private railroad funds contributing to the total $15,417,000 project.” The NDW partnered with the Commission on a submission in December 2022 to the FTA, and the “Project is a continuation of previous partnerships between the railroad and the Rail Commission and is the second federal grant received for this rail line.”

The NDW operates 43 miles of track from Indiana to Ohio which has had deferred maintenance over the years. Since ownership changes at the railroad in the last few years, the “preservation and rehabilitation of the NDW became a high priority.” Now, the project will focus on the portion of line between Defiance and Napoleon, Ohio.

CEO of Patriot Rail, John E. Fenton, said the NDW is “privileged to work with the Ohio Rail Development Commission and deeply [appreciates] the Rail Commission’s direct grant to the Patriot Rail Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway. The Rail Commission’s funding commitment to this project, in combination with NDW’s private contribution, enabled the award of this very significant Federal Railroad Administration CRISI grant that will continue our transformation of the NDW and increase safety, reliability, and efficiency for the rail shippers we serve in the State of Ohio.”

Executive Director Dietrich said: “After decades of deferred maintenance of this rail line, the Rail Commission is happy to partner with the railroad to continue these critical investments in the line.  This project ensures the rail line continues to be an asset for the region’s economic development efforts for many years to come. The enhanced safety improvements make this project a huge win for all involved.”

Kanawha River Railroad and Norfolk Southern

On November 9th, the ORDC approved its staff to administer the CRISI grant through its lifecycle. In partnering with KNWA and Norfolk Southern on a submission from December 2022 to the FRA, the “project will rehabilitate significant sections of the line which runs between Columbus, Ohio, and Cornelia, West Virginia,” measuring at a distance of 240 miles. The line is owned by NS and operated by KNWA (a subsidiary of Watco). The work that will take place includes repairing several bridges, replacing rail and ties, and completing any necessary surface work. The project, which costs around $32.5 million, will eliminate slow orders and restore Class II track speeds in that area. It will also allow KNWA “to maintain safe and reliable service to meet the needs of its existing customers and improve its ability to attract new customers.”

Dietrich commented that this project “will preserve and improve a rail line in Southeastern Ohio that serves as an important link between industries in West Virginia and Ohio. Anytime we are able to work in tandem with our railroad partners to make improvements that reduce the opportunity for incidents to occur, it’s a benefit to all. We are happy to support that effort.”