Value of material of Indiana track set for removal may have been grossly overestimated

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
railroad tracks
Removing railroad track in Laconia, N.H., will cut off Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad from main line.

The value of salvaging the Nickel Plate railroad tracks in Hamilton County, Ind., may have been grossly overestimated, according to four bidders who “competed” for the job.

RT&S reported last week that Utah-based A&K Materials will pay the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority $289,000 to remove the track and ties that span three counties. After the track is removed a 22-mile greenway will be put in its place.

An analysis by R.L. Banks & Associates of Virginia indicated there are 6,000 tons of railroad ties and 6,000 tons of metal tracks along with other salvageable material located along the site. R.L. Banks put the value of all of the salvageable material at $1.6 million.

The four losing bidders, however, said deterioration and the fact it was not a coveted steel weight significantly reduce the value of the track. The rail ties, spikes and plates also were not worth the effort in removing. In fact, the companies believe the rail ties are essentially worthless and will need to be buried in landfills. Three of the five companies that initially applied for the job did not offer to pay the authority, while a fourth wanted to be paid for the removal. One other company said it would pay $7,300.

Nobody placed a bid for the portion of the project that calls for removing the tracks at road crossings and repaving the streets, which has been estimated to cost $1 million.

One of the bidders, All Track in Pendleton, says steel prices are down which makes taking on the project a risk. Mid States Rail out of Chicago says the value of the salvageable material was overpriced by as much as 40 percent.

Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton counties must all approve the project. Fishers gave it the thumbs up last week.

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