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Local Groups Seeking Assurances Rail Line Won't Be Dug Up

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Regional economic leaders are asking the federal government to keep 49 miles of rail lines in place from Rhinelander to Goodman.

In a letter to the Surface Transportation Board, Wisconsin Central LTD. is asking to change the status of the line from 'out of service' to 'discontinued'.

Oneida County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Roger Luce says while seemingly a small change is status, it could have long term consequences..

"....we believe Wisconsin Central LTD. could, in fact, under the discontinuance petition, could pull up all the assets along that rail line. What they would be looking for is an easier abandonment at that point. If the infrastructure is not there, for them to abandon it within two years would be very easy...."

Luce says if the lines are gone, any chance of another short-haul carrier coming in to replace service is gone, as well, due to replacement costs.

Northwoods Rail Transit Commission and Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation asked federal regulators to make sure if the line is discontinued due to low use, that the rails stay in place.

Legal counsel for Wisconsin Central LTD. sent a letter to Northwoods petitioners saying Wisconsin Central is not authorized to salvage the Rhinelander to Goodman line.

Luce will make a presentation on the situation to the Grow North meeting Friday at Nicolet College.

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