Ohio Driller Eyes Abandoned Railroad for Innovative Use

One of the more interesting stories (to MDN anyway) over the past several years has been that of how short line railroads are seeing a comeback because of shale gas drilling. Perhaps it’s the romanticism of a bygone era that appeals. Some of the uses for old short line railroad beds have been innovative—things like “dual use” corridors where rail trails and pipelines have been run together.

But there’s a very new and interesting twist on this story MDN has just noticed. In at least one Ohio location, an energy company wants to lease an abandoned rail line, but not for pipelines and not to run trains on it…

A rail line at the V&M Star is undergoing restoration to handle traffic it hasn’t seen in decades.

Sources say that Carizzo Oil and Gas is looking at an abandoned rail line in Orangeville for an access road into its just-permitted well site in Hartford Township. It’s the second permit issued in Trumbull County that allows for horizontal drilling of Utica shale deposits.

The proposed use of the old rail bed, still owned by Norfolk Southern, would allow heavy construction truck traffic to mostly avoid the narrow, winding, Hayes-Orangeviile Road.

Talks between the companies are reported to be underway, though neither side is commenting.*

So Carrizo wants to run trucks down the old railroad bed—use it as a roadway—and thereby avoid using the local (narrow) road. Everyone wins in that scenario. Cool.

*WKBN 27 CBS News (May 17, 2012) – Abandoned Rail Lines Are Valuable Resources