Monday, February 23, 2009

Is F&M's application for a rail freight assistance grant a travesty?

John Fry, President of Franklin and Marshall College, is consumate at framing matters in a self serving manner. Small wonder he is the product of business schools rather than academia as were the college's prior leaders.

The matter is deemed newsworthy because it raises the issue of why a joint effort by F & M, General Hospital and the Norfolk Southern railway was set forth as an F & M application as though F & M indeed was in the railroad business. Also many representations seem questionable.

The following is condensed from a submittal by a representative of TRRAAC. The article can be viewed in its entirety at

On March 15, 2007, PennDOT entered into a Capital Project Grant Agreement with F&M College ("Agreement"). The Agreement is for the period October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2008 and provides the state's 70% share of the $ 1,000,000 estimated cost for the "engineering of a construction project to relocate Norfolk Southern's Dillerville Yard." The funding appears to have been originated in the 2005 Capital Budget. TRRAAC has obtained a copy of F&M College 's application and the Agreement.

The application was submitted by F&M College , but the copy provided by PennDOT in response to TRRAAC's Right to Know request, is not signed or dated.

As with the application for $ 9.3 million submitted to PennDOT last year, there is "troubling" information in this document. For example, the applicant is F&M College , a self-described railroad user seeking funds related to construction of a rail yard. (PennDOT officials told TRRAAC in a meeting in January 2009 that F&M is not eligible to receive grants under the Rail Freight Assistance Grant program.)

"F&M then lists the revenue and expenses of its "railroad or business operation" for 2004, 2005 and 2006. For 2005, revenues were $ 85,795,874.00 and expenses were $ 83,230,129.00.

In the section asking about current litigation, F&M identifies its litigation and does not disclose, for example, Norfolk Southern was facing corporate criminal charges for a derailment in northwest Pennsylvania .

Why didn't the state require disclosure of Norfolk Southern's litigation and safety record before awarding this grant?


In response to whether the property is owned or leased, F&M responds the property is "owned." Of course, they do not disclose the property is owned by LCSWMA and not the railroad.