Weigle says group also interested in railroad

EAST LIVERPOOL – Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle said they may have another party interested in the railroad owned by the county Port Authority if the pending sale falls through.

Weigle, who serves as the commissioners’ liaison to the port authority, advised the board at its meeting Monday that commissioners had recently been approached by a group interested in acquiring the railroad but has no interest in operating it.

“What they are interested in is the tangible assets of the railroad but not the property,” he said, declining to provide more specifics because of the tentative nature of the offer.

The port authority agreed in September to sell the former Youngstown & Southern Railroad to Mule Sidetracks LLC, a subsidiary of MarkWest Energy Partners, for $3 million. MarkWest operates a natural gas storage and processing plant in Harrison County that receives natural gas from the collection and processing plant near Kensington.

The 36-mile railroad runs from Mahoning County into Beaver County, Pa., but the majority lies within Columbiana County. The proposed sale was recently delayed because of a title problem with a 1.4-mile section of the railroad in Elkrun Township. A surveying firm was hired last month to correct the problem. Port CEO Tracy Drake told Weigle he expects the work to be completed and the title problem resolved by the end of February, clearing the way for the sale.

Weigle said if the MarkWest sale should falter, the port authority might want to pursue the other option, but the port authority has been reluctant to entertain past offers from prospective buyers who were not interested operating the railroad.