Dec. 22 2010 12:00 AM

Train tracks through Old Town to be activated for transporting recycled materials

The idle train tracks running through the heart of Old Town will soon be reactivated for the limited use of transporting recycled material from nearby Friedland Industries.

The tracks that run between Turner and Cedar streets will be operational “sometime in 2011,” Friedland owner Larry Bass said. Though they are considered “active,” no freight has been moved on them for seven or eight years.

The tracks, which run north and south through Old Town near the Chrome Cat, will support a three-car train transferring recycled material to processors throughout Michigan and the U.S., Bass said. The cars will run at about 2 miles per hour as they connect to the main railroad line four blocks north.

The train will run about once every week or two, but not more than once a day, depending on regional train schedules.

The Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road Co. are resurrecting the tracks, though it is unknown when the renovation will finish.

These tracks used to move coal for the Lansing Board of Water and Light when the downtown Ottawa Power Station was still operational, he said.

Bass added that the real benefit is environmental: each train car can carry about 100,000 pounds of material, which is the same amount as three or four truckloads.

Mike Polston, owner of Greenfield Collection Antiques at 317 E. Grand River Ave., is glad Friedland will be using the tracks again — so long as the trains move slowly.

Even cars that drive 30 or 40 miles per hour over the tracks shake the walls of his store, which is across the tracks from the old Comfort Station on the north side of Grand River Avenue. He wonders who will be liable for paying for broken items should train cars worsen the situation.

“The traffic is crazy through here — it shakes the whole building,” Polston said.

But, he trusts Friedland will do it right.

“They (Friedland) support Old Town a whole lot and do a lot for us,” Polston said. “They’re good people.”