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Story originally published by Tulsa KJRH Channel 2 News.
CLAREMORE -- It has been nearly five years in the making, but the City of Claremore's trans-modal rail facility has its first customer. And city officials say it is just a sign of things to come.
Situated near Lowry Road and Highway 66, the groundwork for the rail spur began in 2008, after an ice storm that shut down the Port of Catoosa.
"One of the projects was to help recover from the ice storms and help create other opportunities for transportation that would not be as affected in case we got another disaster like that," said Cary Jester, Development Director for the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA).
The City of Claremore and CIEDA applied for a grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Partnering with several county-wide authorities, Claremore was able to secure more than $2.4 million in grant funding for the rail project.
The track, which stretches about three-quarters of a mile, was completed in Jan. 1 and was open for business March 22. Wednesday evening, the rail spur will receive its first delivery form local manufacturer HydroHoist.
"That gets us placed in the public eye and into the industrial eyes as to potential site for not only industrial recruitment on our behalf, but also use of local businesses into the second cheapest form of transportation which is rail," Jester said.The rail spur sits in between more than 250 acres of land. A little more than 170 acres have already been purchased by CIEDA and is home to the Claremore North Industrial and Business Development Park
More than 35 trains come through the City of Claremore each day. Officials say the business park is not posed to offer "the most modern rail spur and transportation options in the state. "
"This railroad spur is right off the main line so it doesn't hold traffic up," said Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas. "It allows business to come in and either onload or off load materials without holding up the main line."
Pryer Machines and AXH Air Coolers have already taken advantage of the business park, and with the potential to house businesses anywhere from five to 80 acres in size, officials hope there will be many more to follow.
"It's another economic development tool that we will use to bring new businesses to Claremore, to bring jobs and expand on what we already have," Thomas said.
Jester says cooperative efforts to make the rail spur a reality began more than five years ago and included partnerships with Rogers County and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company.
"This is a great opportunity to use a railroad spur… We don't have many of those avenues in Rogers County," Thomas said. "So this is just a great asset for Claremore. And we are hoping to expand on what has already been built here."
Marketing and recruiting efforts have begun to bring more new and local business to the rail spur and industrial park, Jester said.
"We hope that those companies will see a great opportunity and locate in Claremore, Okla."