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Companies interested in Watertown industrial park rail improvements | Business

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WATERTOWN — At lease five companies would be interested in using proposed major upgrades to a railroad spur at the city’s industrial park.

The five companies responded to a survey that local economic development officials conducted to see how a staging area might be used at the rail spur in the City Center Industrial Park on South Bellew Avenue.

Only eight of the 40 companies in Jefferson and Lewis counties responded to the survey. Three indicated that they would not be interested in using it.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, said he “will reach out” with phone calls to get the respondents’ input. He’s also planning to meet with company officials about the rail spur improvements.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith, president of the Watertown Trust Board of Directors, was surprised more companies didn’t respond.

Under the project, the staging area would allow companies to bring their products to the industrial park and ship them by rail rather than truck them to their destinations. The staging area would be constructed so that it would be easy to retrieve the hauled goods from the train to the company’s trucks.

The improvements are projected to cost about $250,000.

CSX Transportation would charge the companies to haul the goods by rail, but the Watertown Trust also could charge a fee to help pay for the improvements and their maintenance.

The subject came up during the Watertown Trust meeting on Thursday.

The city is also looking into whether a second entrance into the industrial park should be built to ease truck traffic.

Renzi Foodservice officials have expressed concern that the staging area could cause more truck traffic in the industrial park.

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