RALEIGH The N.C. Department of Transportation is now seeking bid proposals from qualified short-line operators to operate the 13-mile Piedmont & Northern Railway from Gastonia to Mount Holly in Gaston County following Patriot Rail's announcement in June that it would be terminating its lease of the railroad.
A link to the bid proposal form is available online.
The railroad currently serves two businesses, averaging 12 carloads per month. The line connects with CSX Transportation at Mount Holly and Norfolk Southern at Gastonia.
NCDOT is partnering with Gaston County in the bid solicitation process.
"We are working together to secure an operator with a proven record in bringing rail customers into service. The new lessee will work closely with Gaston County Economic Development to market the rail line and secure new freight customers that will add jobs to Gaston County," said Gaston County Commission Vice Chairman Joe Carpenter.
"We are looking forward to receiving some good, thoughtful proposals for operating the P&N corridor and maximizing the opportunities for economic development and job creation. Working with our partners in Gaston County, we believe that we have clearly defined expectations and look forward to choosing a new operator," said NCDOT Rail Division Director Paul Worley.
Bids will be publically opened Dec. 2. The new lease will include an initial term of two years with four two-year renewable options.
A selection review committee made up of members from NCDOT and the Gaston County Board of Commissioners will review and evaluate each bid proposal received. A new freight operator is expected to be selected within two weeks of receipt of bids, with the goal of having the operator in place by Feb. 1, 2015. In the interim, Patriot Rail will continue to operate the railroad.