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SALAMANCA – A new rail bridge near Falconer is nearly complete and under budget, according to Carl Belke, Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad president and CEO.

The project was an emergency repair, after the bridge was unable to pass a 2011 inspection for the minimum federal weight standard. At the time, the railroad had secured funding for a $1.6 million tie-replacement project along the line from the Town of Carrollton to the City of Salamanca.

“After receiving permission from the New York State Department of Transportation, we moved the funding from replacement of the ties to what became construction of a new bridge in Falconer,” Belke said.

The bridge project is mostly complete and the span was even crossed by a train carrying dignitaries in November, Belke added. Still to be done are the construction of a walkway and the restoration of a 1½-acre site classified as wetlands, Belke said, with completion expected by May.

The new bridge surpasses federal standards for rail traffic, he added.

“The new infrastructure opens Jamestown and Falconer to a full, state-of-the art rail system,” Belke said.

The restoration of the wetlands will proceed over five years, with the site inspected occasionally to ensure proper growth. The cost to restore the site is estimated at $1.1 million.

Belke said he would like to see $500,000 remaining from the rail-tie project used for its original intent. The project will require the approval of the state’s Department of Transportations and Regional Eonomic Development Council for the Western Region.

Should the project be OK’d, it is estimated the railroad could replace as many as 5,000 ties for sections including the Olean-Portville and Oil City-Sugar Grove, Pa., stretches.

More tie replacement is ahead, too.

The railroad also will receive more than $1 million from the state DOT toward the replacement of 8,000 ties from Olean to the Pennsylvania border and a Pennsylvania DOT grant of $840,000 to replace about 12,000 ties over a 14½-mile section of the railroad’s Oil City branch.