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State Paying Off $8.5 Million Railroad Loan For Putnam

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
State Paying Off $8.5 Million Railroad Loan For Putnam

An $8.5 million loan to keep railroad tracks in place and usable in Putnam County will be paid off by TDOT.

Mayor Randy Porter said the decision came Friday. Putnam, Smith and Wilson Counties took out the loan several years ago.

Porter said when diesel taxation methods changed, the railroads brought lawsuits against the state. Porter said during this time, the railroad authority got no revenue from the tax.

“Probably a good will offering,” Porter said. “Because if we had been receiving that money from the diesel like we were supposed to, we would have been able to pay this off but since that was cut off several years ago it really hurt us.”

Porter said that to his understanding, the diesel tax will be charged per gallon. He said that tax revenue should be coming into the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority by October.

Porter said with no loan payments to make, work can be done to improve railways leading to Nashville.

“We want to make the rail line speeds increased on it, they have some areas of the track that the train can only go 10 or 20 miles per hour, so it slows the trips down when you go all the way from Monterey to Nashville ,” Porter said. “So we want to make sure the track is improved to raise those speeds up to offer faster rail.”

Porter said the railroad plays a key piece in the county economy. He said private companies need a strong railway system for operations.

“Most of the companies that are looking at Putnam County and other counties to bring in new businesses, a lot of those want rail service,” Porter said. “So it enables us to attract new businesses to come and also to keep the rail safe so that we don’t have any derailment.”

Porter said that USDA funding is making the TDOT repayment possible. Porter said the loan repayment makes the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority nearly debt free.


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