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Crews Fight Flood-Based Threats to Rail Service

RailWorks helped CP Rail reopen its main line near Minot, N.D., following damaging flood waters.

RailWorks Track Systems jumped in deep to assist customers during extensive flooding across the Central U.S. in the spring and summer of 2011.

In June alone, crews were extremely busy.

Early in the month, rising water along the Missouri River brought RailWorks to the aid of Cargill Inc. RailWorks helped the company construct an 8-foot-high dike around its Blair, Neb., corn-milling plant in anticipation of up to 4 feet of water inside the plant – the company’s largest U.S. facility.

RailWorks removed track panels to make room for a 3-mile long berm around the plant and lifted about 2,000 feet of track a couple of feet above projected water levels. They later returned to resurface and realign track that had shifted in the saturated soil.

In North Dakota, a crew assisted CP Rail in building up the grade along its main line from north of Minot south across 50 miles of terrain flooded by the Souris River. The five-person crew supplemented a much larger force that worked 24/7 for just over two weeks to bring the main line back into service. With equipment support from offices in Texas, Washington and Minnesota, RailWorks provided three hi-rail dump trucks and operators to haul and dump rock to shore up the main line shoulders.

Heavy spring rains and greater than typical snowmelt were among factors causing the excess strain on dams and levees. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulated the release of record amounts of water through 850 miles of rivers.

While some rain and fresh flood warnings continued to pop up throughout July and August, the floodwaters in Minot, Blair and other such sites began to recede at that time.