If you look at a map of the railway lines, they look like the arteries that keep this country’s commerce alive. To companies like Parallel Infrastructure, a right of way (ROW) management and infrastructure development company, those lines snaking from city to city look like potential sites for cell towers or fiber-optic backhaul.
Parallel Infrastructure has expanded its client portfolio with ROW agreements in Pennsylvania. Contracts with SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, a regional freight service that serves central Pennsylvania, and Pioneer Railcorp, which operates the Gettysburg & Northern Railroad, add 207 miles of corridor. Parallel Infrastructure has agreements with 32 railroads that have a total of 2,100 miles of ROW running across 20 states. Eight of those railroads are in Pennsylvania.
Last year, the company signed 21 short-line and regional railroad agreements, bringing its total amount of managed right-of-way property to nearly 1,700 miles spanning 17 states across the country.
Parallel Infrastructure is on track to build 25 towers in railroad ROWs by the end of this year, and it has a goal of eventually building and operating 1,000 towers, according to Frank Chechile, company CEO. The landowners benefit through receiving a share of the gross revenue from the carriers.
“There continues to be strong demand for improving telecommunications infrastructure, and that means growth opportunities abound for right of way property owners,” Chechile said. “By entering into innovative revenue-share agreements, we help monetize our clients’ underutilized real estate without interrupting their core operations.”
Before Parallel Infrastructure will sign up a railroad, it evaluates the land assets of the right of way owner to determine what type of opportunities those assets represent.
“In every one of these railroads, we saw voids in the carriers’ coverage that could be served by the rights of way,” Chechile said. “In other cases, working with the carriers, we identify places where they would like to invest in their network, and then we see if we can fill that need by partnering with a right of way owner.”
Along with railroad ROWs, Chechile is seeing more opportunities to develop land owned by state and local governments. Allegheny County awarded Parallel Infrastructure the telecommunications facility development rights on 14 parcels, totaling more than 3 million square feet of underutilized county-owned land. By partnering with Jacobs Engineering, Parallel Infrastructure scouted and assessed sites that could be developed.
“With tightening budgets, government entities are making efforts to capture additional revenue by unlocking the value of their real estate,” he said. Along with telecom development, Parallel Infrastructure will also provide the county with access to its communications facilities to allow it to develop emergency management systems.
Parallel Infrastructure is is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), the commercial real estate, transportation and infrastructure sister company to Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway, and manages 470 route miles of FEC’s right of way land, which runs continuously for 351 miles from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida, traversing 28 cities. By the end of this year, the company will begin providing fiber-based backhaul and long-haul infrastructure along this corridor.
“It’s been more than a decade since the last fiber cables were installed along this 351-mile corridor,” Chechile said. “These new, low-latency strands can transfer large amounts of data faster and are in high demand.”
The fiber-optic network will be marketed to telephone and wireless carriers, utility companies, cable companies, data centers, municipalities, and other educational and healthcare businesses that transmit large amounts of data on a regular basis.