Contractors, railroads battle catastrophic flood damage

BNSF employees and contractors work to restore service as flood waters recede. Photo taken near Louisville, Nebraska along the Platte River on Tuesday, March 19. BNSF photo.

Record-setting floods have caused extensive damage to railroad infrastructure across large sections of the Midwest, prompting a surge in construction and repair work.

The contracting community has put considerable numbers of workers and equipment into the field, as railroads look to rebuild washed-out sections of track. “We’re operating 24/7,” said Georgetown Rail Equipment Co. President Greg Grissom. “GREX has 29 trains working the flooding in Nebraska and 40 employees on the jobs.  That’s a total of 379 cars of ballast being unloaded at any given time.”

Herzog Chief Commercial Officer James Hansen, reached by Railway Track and Structures as he boarded a helicopter to survey damage, said his company had also committed workers and equipment to the cause.

Complicating matters for contractors and employees is that crews must remove downed trees and other debris before track repair can begin. And in some places the water has yet to recede, leaving rails under water and making repair work impossible. Furthermore, reaching some of the hardest-hit areas is difficult as roads and highways are badly damaged.

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