INRD kicks off bridge project; welcomes “new” ballast cars

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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The Indiana Rail Road (INRD) outlines a new bridge project that will get underway in July and details its new and rebuilt fleet of ballast cars in the latest edition of its newsletter, "Mileposts."


The INRD bridge over the White River near Elnora, Ind., which is more than a century old, will be replaced with a steel plate girder bridge, allowing for greater train capacity and speed says the railroad.

INRD says the current White River Bridge, which is also used by the Indiana Southern, is safe and inspected regularly, but replacing steel forged in the Gilded Age (along with the wood-pile approach bridges) became a priority in recent years. Due to its age, INRD engineers placed a 10 mph speed restriction on the White River bridge and limited per-car maximum weight to 263,000 pounds. Since the rail industry standard maximum weight is 286,000 pounds, the bridge puts southern Indiana businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

In July, a new 450-foot steel plate girder bridge will start to take shape, with service over the line continuing throughout construction aside from several short work curfews.
The existing bridge piers in the river will remain, with each receiving a major rehabilitation and a reinforced concrete casing before new bridge sections are put in place. The wood pile approaches will get replaced with modern precast concrete and steel decks.

When work is completed in October 2015, INRD, Indiana Southern and southwest Indiana customers will have a new span capable of carrying the heaviest loads at the posted track speed of 40 mph.

Replacing the White River bridge will cost $14 million. Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) acquired $8 million for the project.

In other INRD news, its Engineering Department has scored a “win-win-win” with a new and heavily-rebuilt fleet of ballast cars in use across the system this year.

“Not only do the bright-yellow cars distribute ballast along the right-of-way faster than ever before, but their air-actuated control system is much safer and easier for employees to use,” INRD says.

The railroad says it is keeping its 22-car ballast fleet busy this year with more than $19 million in capital expenditures, which include projects such as those taking place on the Indianapolis Subdivision, between Bloomington and Indianapolis, where 11,000 linear feet of new rail and 4,200 wooden crossties are being installed. The railroad says when the project is completed in early August, INRD’s 155-mile Indianapolis Subdivision, which runs from Indianapolis to the Canadian National Rail connection at Newton, Ill., will be in better condition than at any point in its 108-year history. INRD notes that heavier rail, better-quality crossties and a better limestone ballast base will allow for a faster and smoother ride for commerce.

“It’s a big improvement on safety because with the old cars, you had to carry a 10-pound
bar with you and you were either pushing down on the bar or pulling on it to open the (ballast) car doors,” said Mark Hiatt, of INRD Engineering. “The ballast would get stuck and we’d have to beat and bang on the cars to get it moving. Your arms felt like jello at the end of the day and you can imagine what it did to your back. Now, it’s just the push of a button. You’re talking three or four hours (before), what you can do in one hour now.”


Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, Bridge/Retaining Walls/Tunnels, Shortline/Regional