G&W: Dispatch Center To Stay In St. Albans

Genessee & Wyoming is Proposing to Move its American Rail Dispatching Center (ARDC) within St. Albans to a Brand New Facility in Redeveloped Former Mill. But Move Depends on Public Support.

10 January, St. Albans VT — When G&W acquired RailAmerica in 2012, one discreet asset was the American Rail Dispatching Center (ARDC), located in St. Albans, Vermont. Since 2012, ARDC has provided dispatching services for most shortline operations under the G&W umbrella across the United States. G&W is prepared to make a long-term commitment to ARDC and the city, by building a more modern facility to handle all dispatch traffic for 97 of its 119 North American lines.

Plan depends on March vote

The proposed ARDC facility will be the first phase of a three-phase Brownfield cleanup and redevelopment project at the former Fonda Group paper products site, which closed in 2005. Voters will decide in March whether to launch the project with a $1 million tax increment financing (TIF) credit Town Meeting Day vote. The project has already received a $400,000 Northern Borders Regional Commission grant and $25,000 grant from the Franklin County Industrial Development.

St. Albans VT

The ARDC will be the lead tenant of the three-parcel redevelopment of the former Fonda Group site. The Fonda Group, a subsidiary of Solo Cup Company, manufactured decorative paper products. The St. Albans plant closed in 2005, with 168 jobs lost. If St. Albans voters elect to suppor the project with a $1 million tax incentive, the dispatch staff may be in their new facility by 2022. {St. Albans Fonda Redevelopment Plan; ANRP}.

The new ARDC facility will be the first of three new light industrial buildings to be built on Lower Newton Street in St. Albans, according to the development plan. The ARDC’s new 10,000 sq.ft building will occupy the smallest parcel of the 4.5 acre property (“Phase One”). G&W will lease the building from the Connor Group of St. Albans.

New facility a big step up

ARDC’s 63 Dispatch staffers transmit and receive radio traffic over local repeaters, or by use of railroad approved electronic devices to reach their respective dispatcher in some. The ARDC is currently spread out at 2 Federal Street.

G&W and ARDC are eager for the new facility. “We have a terrific work force and over 100 years of history in St. Albans,” said G&W SVP, Tony Long. “We’re excited to improve our operations in a modern, build-to-suit building.”

ARDC Director Dave Blodgett said the new building “secures us to be here for at least ten more years.” {ANRP sources}.

Current ARDC facility is in the venerable Central Vermont Railroad building at Two Federal St. in St. Albans. Built in the 1860s, the building is rich in railroad history, but has become obsolete as a centralized continental dispatching facility. The train shed was demolished in 1966.