CHAPTER 673

SENATE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1

FOR SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 48

REQUESTING THE SECRETARY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, MR. CLAUDE S. BRINEGAR, AND THE RAIL SERVICES PLANNING OFFICE OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION EXPARTE NO. 293-SUB NO. 1 TO RESCIND RECOMMENDATIONS MADE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION REPORT OF FEBRUARY 1, 1974, REGARDING THE ABANDONMENT OF CERTAIN RAIL FACILITIES IN ZONES 84, 85, 86 AND 182 PURSUANT TO PUBLIC LAW NO. 93-236.

WHEREAS, members of the 127th General Assembly of the State of Delaware with the concurrence of the Governor of the State of Delaware clearly recognize that Public Law No. 93-236 is constructive legislation which will help to resolve and generally alleviate the economic crisis which the American railroad system currently faces; notwithstanding the fact that recommendations in the Secretary of Transportation's report of February 1, 1974, are economically adverse to the Delmarva Peninsula as reflected in Zones 84, 85, 86 and 182 of the report with the exception of the Rockland to Pennsylvania State line segment; and

WHEREAS, the economy of the eastern shore which includes most of the land area of Delaware is heavily oriented to agriculture and related processing activities of a highly seasonal nature, particularly the tri-state area zones; and

WHEREAS, Penn Central is the only railroad serving the peninsula, unlike other sections of the northeast, and agriculture and its related industries are almost wholly dependent upon rail service because it is the most economic means of shipping both raw and finished products of the agribusiness; and

WHEREAS, the car float operation alone is an essential link in the Penn Central rail operation on the Delmarva Peninsula which by Penn Central's own admission from its accounting division, this marine operation covering the 27 mile distance across Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles, Virginia, on the peninsula and the Norfolk area rail and port complex on the mainland is a profitable operation; and

WHEREAS, in recent years the volume of cars carried across the Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles and Norfolk has averaged approximately 50,000 cars annually; and

WHEREAS, the car floats operation is also absolutely vital to the operation of the main line from Norfolk, Virginia, to Wilmington, Delaware; and,

WHEREAS, the through line from Norfolk, Virginia, to Wilmington, Delaware, is 100 miles shorter than the alternate route to Wilmington and the north via Richmond, Virginia, and the bottlenecks of the badly overcrowded Potomac marshalling yards in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore; and

WHEREAS, clearance for the Baltimore rail tunnel prohibits the shipment of rail transported items exceeding fourteen feet in height, thus excluding some items now shipped from Norfolk, north via "i.e. peninsula route; and

WHEREAS, such an illustration, for example, would be shipment of modular homes which would be forced to go west to Hagerstown, Maryland, and back east to Wilmington, Delaware, avoiding the Baltimore Tunnel, and then south for delivery on the peninsula; and

WHEREAS, a vast portion of the fertilizer and its component ingredients vital to the agribusiness on the peninsula is currently shipped in bulk by rail, likewise the seed and grain produce of the area is shipped outbound by rail; and

WHEREAS, many of the components of fertilizer originate in faraway shipping points such as Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Canada making shipment by truck too costly to be practical; and

WHEREAS, the cost added for truck shipment versus rail shipment is $8.00 or $9.00 a ton for feed and $30.00 per ton for fertilizer; and

WHEREAS, another vital commodity of the area is lumber which is shipped on and off the peninsula mostly by rail and costs approximately $24.00 a ton cheaper than shipment by truck; and

WHEREAS, several items essential to Delmarva agriculture now transported on the rail car floats such as petroleum and agricultural chemicals are prohibited as truck cargo on the Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel complex; and

WHEREAS, traffic on the Georgetown-Lewes-Rehoboth spur included in the track recommended for abandonment running eastward from Georgetown, Delaware, the county seat of Sussex County, to Lewes and Rehoboth on the Atlantic Coast is on the increase with 426 cars handled in 1972 versus 330 cars in 1971 and has great potential for substantial increases in demand as a result of recent economic developments in the area; and

WHEREAS, it would be quite uneconomical to abandon the Georgetown-Lewes-Rehoboth spur when the Federal Government has just made an outright EDA grant of $100,000 to construct 6,270 feet of rail track and switching appurtenances from Georgetown to the new Sussex County Airport Industrial Complex now under development; and

WHEREAS, three (3) of the twenty-nine (29) industrial sites at the airpark have indicated a usage of 850 rail cars nearly doubling the present car-handling on the line; and

WHEREAS, upgrading of the existing track would increase usage by two Lewes shippers for a total of 50 cars per year; and

WHEREAS, the spur which connects Dagsboro to Selbyville to Snow Hill, Maryland, is showing an annual usage of 43.5 carloads per mile by five large companies shipping such products as fertilizer, feed and lumber and the economy of the area indicates significant growth particularly by two current users who have indicated a considerable increase in their demands for additional rail service; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Delaware consider the retention of the Penn Central car floats operation an absolute must for the economic health of the State; and

WHEREAS, the continued operation of the 99 miles of trackage from Cape Charles, Virginia, to Salisbury, Maryland, is of equal importance in maintaining the status quo of the economy of the State's vast investment in agriculture and its potential for attracting new industrial growth; and

WHEREAS, rail facilities in Zone 84 specifically the tracks running from Elsmere to Hockessin and the tracks running from Townsend, Delaware, to the Maryland State line are essential to the economies of these areas; and

WHEREAS, rail facilities running from Seaford, Delaware, to Vienna and Cambridge, Maryland, are also essential to the economic well being of these areas; and

WHEREAS, the rail facilities in Zone 85, specifically the track which runs from Clayton, Delaware, to the Maryland State line, is also essential to the local economy; and

WHEREAS, members of the General Assembly and the Governor feel that the Department of Transportation report gives too much weight to raw figures of cars hauled by Penn Central and/or profit and loss ratios of such service excluding a very significant factor, namely the effects of track abandonment such as disruption or cessation of an industry and the effects it will have on the market; and

WHEREAS, we feel that the Department of Transportation must give weight to the detrimental economic effects which would mushroom outward over a wide area as a result of greatly increased costs of transportation, for incoming raw materials as well as outgoing finished products; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation must also take into account that the low level of rail traffic on Penn Central system on the Delmarva is due to the deplorable condition of the tracks and roadbed which have slowed speeds to a snail's pace; and

WHEREAS, a significant number of Delaware shippers who have shifted from rail to truck and abandoned the use of the railroad as a carrier have indicated a desire to return to rail shipment if service were improved in their area; and

WHEREAS, Delaware wishes to go on record morally supporting the same positions in which the States of Maryland and Virginia have taken in opposing the abandonment of rail trackage from Salisbury, Maryland, to Cape Charles, Virginia, and the car float facilities; and

WHEREAS, in view of these facts it would appear that the wisest course to be taken by the Department of Transportation regarding Penn Central facilities would be the renovation and modernization of existing facilities rather than abandonment of such facilities.

NOW, THEREFORE:

BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the 127th General Assembly of the State of Delaware, the Governor concurring therein, that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mr. Claude S. Brinegar, is hereby requested to rescind recommendations in his report of February 1, 1974, regarding the abandonment of aforementioned tracks located in Zones 84, 85, 86 and 182 of his official report with the exception of the Rockland to Pennsylvania State line segment.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution be officially embodied in the Senate and House Journals and that copies be sent to the following persons: U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Claude S. Brinegar, Washington, D.C.; Governor Marvin Mandel, Governor of the State of Maryland; Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr., Governor of the State of Virginia; U.S. Senators William V. Roth, Jr., Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Rep. Pierre S. duPont, IV; Delmarva Advisory Council, Salisbury, Maryland; Delmarva Poultry Industry, Georgetown, Delaware; Delaware Farm Bureau, Dover, Delaware; and Mr. Ralph O'Day, Delaware State Grange, Seaford, Delaware.

Approved May 21, 1974