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Rail solution reached for Sault-to-Sudbury line

Posted: Sep 30, 2010

They said it could not be done. 

They said a decision to halt operation of the aging Huron Central Railway line between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury was made, and there was no turning back.
“Well, people in this part of Northern Ontario don’t know the meaning of the words can’t be done,” City CAO Joe Fratesi said at an HCR funding announcement this month.

With joint federal and provincial investments totaling $33 million, the rail line will continue operating. The fact that a solution was reached in what seemed to be the longest of long shots speaks to the Northern Ontario mantra noted by Fratesi at the announcement: “The difficult we can do immediately. The impossible will take us a little longer,” he said. 
Fratesi, along with Multimodal Task Force Chair Bill Therriault, led a group that worked tirelessly during the past several months to save HCR. To achieve this objective, those impacted by the rail line were brought to the table. These include Essar Steel Algoma, Domtar, and other businesses and communities between the Sault and Sudbury that rely on the line.
The federal and provincial governments, along with City Council, were also brought to the table, and their support, in the form of investments, proved invaluable.
“This announcement was the culmination of a solid team effort by a number of individuals, especially CAO Joe Fratesi and the working group,” said Multimodal Task Force member John Febbraro, Director of Industrial Marketing for Business Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Economic Development Corporation. “The HCR link is vital for the economic development of Northern Ontario, and the strong financial support from both the federal and provincial governments demonstrates that they understand this.” 
The fact that the HCR line will remain open means the preservation of 45 direct jobs and another 100 or so indirect jobs. Meanwhile, as the line provides direct rail access to 26 communities and First Nations, along with indirect access to many other Northeastern Ontario communities, thousands of people will benefit from the long-term sustainability of the railway.
Put simply, keeping the line open was essential, and it’s nothing short of remarkable that a solution was reached.

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