Friday, November 06, 2009

Historic railway yanked away for Sioux City project

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It's been decades since select ground just east of Floyd Boulevard in Sioux City, Iowa, was exposed to sun and other elements, the Sioux City Journal reports. Now, the area is being laid bare by workers moving southward, pulling out old railroad spikes and prying up the steel track.

It's all part of the last step involving the Union Pacific track infrastructure in the Outer Drive connector extension project. Crews hired by UP have been ripping up the steel and wood railroad ties after a new railroad line was created veering toward the Floyd River, city civil engineer Melanie Swain said.

A railroad first operated in Sioux City in 1868. Although it is uncertain when the tracks now being relocated along Floyd Boulevard were put in place, "A Pictorial History of Leeds" indicates the railway was operating by the 1890s. That railroad was first under operation by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad, then the Chicago & North Western Railroad and then Union Pacific in 1995.

John Torno, who lives near Floyd Boulevard, has observed the railway work this week. He said the railroad has been a vital part of developing the city, and he never minded the train noise.

"On the holidays when the trains don't run, it just seems like something is off that day. They just become part of the daily routine," he said.

The Outer Drive project to open up the so-called Hoeven Valley is the most expensive, complicated paving of less than a mile of a street in Sioux City history. The $35.1-million project involves running the four-lane highway under a railroad overpass and then jumping over the Floyd River. Dikes will be located on both sides of the river. There will also be a recreation trail and, of course, the new Union Pacific rail.

The project, at one point set for a completion date of 2007, was slowed as the city negotiated an agreement with the Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific to move the tracks east to the river dike base. That agreement was reached in August 2008, and the new railroad tracks were put down in summer 2009.

"It is just nice that the railroad relocation has been completed, so that we can move forward with the remainder of the (Floyd River) bridge construction," she said.

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