The State Transportation Commission approved a $245,000 grant today for refurbishing a structure that Appanoose County officials say is literally a bridge to their county’s economic success. The grant will help pay for improving the Chariton River Bridge located south of Lake Rathbun in southern Iowa. Jim Senior, the general manager of the Appanoose County Community Railroad, says the bridge is one of the connections on the railroad that supplies raw materials to plants in Centerville that represent more than 1,000 jobs. Senior says if the bridge failed, it would put them out of business permanently. Senior says fixing up the bridge will allow a company to bring in big train engines for repair. RELCO Locomotives of Chicago is looking to expand and promises to build a 100,000 foot facility in Centerville and will eventually add 100 new jobs, and he says the Rubermaid plant is also considering an expansion that will add more 150 to 100 more jobs. Senior says the railroad has only about 35 miles of track from Albia to Centerville, but he says it impacts the county in many ways. He says they’re a not-for-profit company that’s basically a charity, so they do things to interest the public in the railroad, including an event last weekend in which they gave passengers rides on the line. The railroad will chip in $105,000 to help pay for the bridge repairs.
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