BOYERTOWN PA – Colebrookdale Railroad, the popular scenic railroad and railbike tourist attraction operating between Pottstown and Boyertown, will benefit from a $16 million grant to reduce train-vehicle collisions and blocked rail crossings, government officials said Tuesday (June 6, 2023).
The infrastructure improvement grant was presented to the Berks County Redevelopment Authority, and jointly announced by Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman, 4th District Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, and 6th District Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan.
The redevelopment authority owns the rail right-of-way on which the Colebrookdale line operates. The money it receives will pay for development, right-of-way acquisition, and construction for improvements at 10 Colebrookdale crossings. The grant represents funding from the new Railroad Crossing Elimination program under the bipartisan federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Planned updates include eliminating one crossing, improving several other unprotected crossings, and eliminating severe clearance and sight-line issues by raising bridges at another three crossings.
“Improving the safety and functionality of our railroads is crucial to the sustainability and growth of our communities,” Dean said. The investment “will help make rail crossings safer while lifting redevelopment in Boyertown and Pottstown,” she noted.
The authority will contribute a 20-percent match of non-federal dollars to the project. Its executive director, Kenneth Pick, thanked federal, state, and local elected officials involved in securing the $16 million, and said the railroad “has proven to be a great example of the public-private partnership concept.”
A less well-known part of Colebrookdale’s financial model is its growing presence as a rail shipper of freight for local and regional companies. By “investing in the bridges and crossings of the Colebrookdale Railroad, this grant preserves a lifeline for businesses whose work is foundational to our economy,” railroad Executive Director Nathaniel Guest observed.
The grant was awarded during the first round of available funding, according to the announcement. During the next four years, additional railroad crossing elimination funding will be made available annually for any interested community to apply, it stated.
Photo by Travels With The Post