IN A PERSONAL MEETING WITH ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE SHANAHAN, SCHUMER URGES DOD TO MAKE FORT DRUM RAILHEAD IMPROVEMENTS A TOP PRIORITY; PROJECT WOULD MODERNIZE BASE INFRASTRUCTURE, ENHANCE READINESS
Current Railhead Limits Fort Drum’s Ability To Meet Mission Readiness Requirement
Senator Says Railhead Improvements Are Installation’s #1 Infrastructure Priority; Urges Department Of Defense To Prioritize $21M Project In The Army’s FY2020 Budget Request
Schumer To DOD: New Fort Drum Railhead Would Boost Mission Readiness & Bring Good-Paying Construction Jobs To The North Country
In a one-on-one meeting with Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer last week urged the Department of Defense (DOD) to prioritize the construction of a new railhead project at Fort Drum in the Army’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget Request. Schumer explained that the current railhead on Fort Drum restricts the installation’s ability to meet DOD requirements, is limited by spatial constraints and is incapable of supporting operations during the harsh winter months. Schumer said that the new railhead project, which would cost roughly $21 million, is a top priority for Fort Drum officials and would be funded by the FY2020 Military Construction (MILCON) Appropriations bill.
“During my meeting with Acting Secretary Shanahan, I made it clear the Department of Defense should do everything possible to prioritize the construction of a new railhead on Fort Drum, which is the top priority for installation officials. The current railhead limits Fort Drum’s ability to meet deployment requirements, and to maintain the advantages that make this operation so valuable we must make the necessary investments to enable our world-class troops at Fort Drum to muster and mobilize with unparalleled efficiency,” said Senator Schumer. “Not only would this project greatly enhance Fort Drum’s mission readiness, it would also bring good-paying construction jobs to the North Country. Fort Drum is both a major asset to the Army and woven into the very fabric of the North Country – I’ll keep fighting to ensure that its infrastructure is up to date and capable of supporting all of the military’s requirements.”
Schumer explained that the current Fort Drum railhead is outdated, and in desperate need of an upgrade. Fort Drum has a limited capability in place to simultaneously load and unload trains for mobilization and therefore multiple missions must be staggered and delayed. Loading trains for deployment often forces Fort Drum to hold inbound trains miles away in the town of Watertown’s rail yard, which increases costs. In addition, the current railhead has limited capacity for storage and harsh winter conditions often restrict operations. Schumer added the railhead project will eliminate the operational and safety constraints currently experienced by the installation.
Schumer said the new railhead project would improve loading operations at Fort Drum by building 1.2 miles of new railroad loading tracks. Additionally, the $21M project would fund the construction of new ramps, a side loading area, protection measures from weather, new lighting, and a new Alert Holding Area equipped with a cargo inspection building. Schumer said that these measures would greatly benefit Fort Drum’s loading capacity, ensuring that the base could meet all of its deployment requirements.
Schumer explained that Ft. Drum is one of the most important resources in the North Country and across Upstate New York. The base trains tens of thousands of troops annually and is the largest employer in the region, contributing nearly a billion dollars a year to the region’s economy. In the past, Schumer has helped shield Ft. Drum from devastating cuts that would have undermined the base’s mission and reduced manpower levels.
Schumer previously pushed for the construction of the new railhead project on Fort Drum in a phone call with Army Secretary Dr. Mark Esper in October of last year.