The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

September 14, 2013

Rail bridge rebuild key for area economy

NEWBERRY — An aging bridge along the Indiana Railroad line will be rebuilt. The 115-year-old bridge over the West Fork of the White River in Greene County is being called an important upgrade to the freight transportation system that services businesses in and around Daviess County.

“The current bridge is technologically obsolete,” said Indiana Rail Road President Tom Hoback. “We have reduced the amount of weight which can be safely moved over the bridge to extend its life, but this is only a stopgap measure.”

The project has received a huge financial boost with an $8.2 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project is one of only 52 awarded in the nation. More than $9-billion in applications were made for $474 million in funding.

Indiana Rail Road is putting together the funding to cover the rest of the cost of the $13.75 million project.”Indiana Rail Road will put up $2 million on the project, Southern Indiana Railroad will put in $1.5 million,” said Eric Powell with Indiana Rail Road. “Duke Energy and IPL will also be putting in some upfront money that they will recover from rebates on freight moved along the line.”

The rail line improvements will also be a positive for Crane. The line is part of the strategic rail corridor. Officials say 1,500 to 2,000 containers roll into the Navy base every year. “This bridge is a key link in the movement of southwest Indiana coal, grain, and manufactured goods, as well as military hardware for Naval Support Activity Crane,” said Eighth Dist. Congressman Larry Bucshon. “The new bridge will remove height and weight limitations, creating cost and service efficiency opportunities for companies from Indianapolis to Evansville.

The pin-connected Pratt style bridge was built to handle loads for lighter trains of the 19th century. “We had really feared a catastrophic failure of the bridge,” said Powell. “That would have cut off Crane and our other customers.”

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