Hitchcock Scrap Yard’s Notice of Intent to file an Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) has been accepted by the Surface Transportation Board. As a result, proceeedings for BNSF’s abandonment of 14.5 miles between Dunfermline and Farmington has been reopened, and the OFA extension filing deadline has been granted. Key points of today’s Decision:
The exemption was scheduled to become effective on February 23, 2013, but a formal expression of intent to file an offer of financial assistance (OFA) was timely filed by Hitchcock Scrap Yard, Inc. (HSY), to purchase all or a portion of the line, which has the effect of automatically staying the effective date of the exemption until March 5, 2013. In the filing, HSY requests that BNSF provide:
(1) the information required under 49 C.F.R. § 1152.27(a), including the minimum purchase price to acquire the line, and
(2) all data necessary to determine the estimate of the net liquidation value of the line, together with supporting data reflecting available real estate appraisals, assessments of the quality and the quantity of track material on the line, and the removal cost estimate used to obtain the net liquidation value. HSY also requests that the 30-day time period for filing an OFA be tolled for an additional 30 days in order to allow HSY an adequate opportunity to review and analyze BNSF’s information, and to submit its OFA. BNSF does not oppose HSY’s request. Accordingly, the request for an extension of the OFA filing deadline will be granted.
3. The requests for issuance of a notice of interim trail use and for issuance of a public use condition are held in abeyance pending completion of the OFA process.
4. If the OFA process terminates, a decision and notice effective on its service date will be issued to impose the notice of interim trail use and the public use condition.
5. BNSF is directed to provide HSY with the requested information to enable HSY to file an OFA. The deadline for HSY to file its OFA is extended to March 25, 2013.
6. The effective date of the exemption is postponed until April 4, 2013.
7. This decision is effective on its service date.
MY TAKE: If BNSF’s minimum purchase price is acceptable, then Hitchock Scrap Yard will become owner of all or part of the 14.5 mile line. HSY only requires a short stretch – about two miles – from near its place of business (on Rt. 78) north to the Keokuk Junction Railway at Canton. If and when HSY makes its purchase, it can begin building a spur to allow direct service to its facility.
This is a good deal for HSY, the City of Canton and the Keokuk Junction Railway. Recreational trail advocates will be disappointed, especially if HSY acquires the entire line. But they’ll have to live with it. Preservation of dormant transportation infrastructure in a way that enables restoration is far more beneficial to the public than a trail.
- David P. Jordan