ASHTABULA — While ripping out a part of the existing railway yard this week at the Petmin site, workers from Delta Railroad discovered a little bit of history.
According to the imprint on the railroad tracks, workers installed them during the 1918 pandemic, and now the lines are being removed during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
"1918 was the height of the steel industry and a pandemic, and now in 2020, it's the rebirth of the steel industry in Ashtabula in the middle of another pandemic," said Larry Laurello, owner of Delta Railroad.
Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere said it's pretty impressive to think those rails were manufactured during a pandemic.
"Just like those days long ago, we press on to create new beginnings and continue the investments in our community as they did before us," he said. "I'm glad Mr. Laurello and his team connected the time periods on this project. It's going to be a great story to tell."
In order to make room for all the work associated with the Petmin plant, workers are removing the railroad tracks, among other things.
Last month, City Council approved an ordinance authorizing Timonere to enter into an $810,000 contract with Perk Company of Cleveland for the Petmin resurfacing project.
“The majority of that money we obtained from grants,” he said. “The city will only pay $120,000, the grants will pay for remaining $700,000.”
The city’s $120,000 is going to come out of the permanent improvement fund, he said.
The work, which includes widening and resurfacing portions of East 5th Street, Columbus Avenue Extension and Parkgate Avenue, is underway and should be done by the end of the year, he said.
The existing roads would not support the amount of truck traffic the Petmin plant will generate, he said.
City Council President John Roskovics said the Petmin project will benefit the entire county.
Petmin, a South African company, plans to build a $450 million pig iron plant at the Kinder Morgan Pinney Dock facility that could lead to several hundred construction jobs as well as more than 100 permanent, skilled jobs once complete in 2022.