Dave Scott

Metro Regional Transit Authority is thinking about getting into the train business.

Known mostly for its bus service in Akron, Metro has been using federal funds to buy track over the last 20 years as it became available from Conrail and private railroad companies.

Now industries are coming to Metro saying the time is right to improve those tracks and link them to their businesses.

At the top of the list are metal fabricating companies in Hudson, including Specialty Metals Processing Inc. Those companies are attracted to rail’s lower transportation costs when compared with trucking, Richard M. Enty, Metro’s director of planning and development, told the authority’s board Tuesday morning.

Increasing rail traffic is also seen as a way to reduce traffic congestion on Seasons Road.

Planners also see the possibility of serving the Utica shale gas industry with shipments of dry cement and piping. Patriot Energy has expressed interest in locating near a Specialty Metals facility.

The Metro board accepted a lengthy report on the subject. It also authorized Metro Executive Director Robert Pfaff and his staff to continue looking at the issue.

Metro’s holdings include the active Sandyville Line between Akron and Canton and the Akron Secondary Line, which would need work before it could take products to the Hudson area. It totals 41 miles of track, and Metro is looking at buying even more track to link with existing, privately held lines.

A report to Metro by Bergmann Associates suggested the following possibilities:

•?Adjust Metro’s management to make it able to handle rail issues.

•?Complete a facility in Hudson that could transfer freight between trucks and trains.

•?Repair and replace bridges on the Sandyville Line.

•?Work with Akron to maintain rail viability at the Massillon Road Industrial Park.

•?Develop a strategy to work with the shale gas industry.

•?Put a segment of line at the north end of the Akron Secondary Line linking to Norfolk Southern.

•?Assess potentially contaminated land along the rail property.

•?Connect the Sandyville rail line to Akron-Canton Airport.

Metro also is looking at five potential Freight Activity Centers in addition to the one in Hudson: two Akron, Green, Jackson Township and Canton. The study says those centers could potentially involve 33 million square feet of development.

Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or davescott@thebeaconjournal.com.