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above track level in low-lying areas. Until the June 20 storms hit, BNSF crews had successfully kept the Kansas City-Lincoln line open by raising the St. Joseph Sub track- age located in the flood plain between Rulo, Neb., and Fortescue, Mo., just west of Napier. But after a levee broke at Rulo, the game was over as the water quickly rose above the rails and the current washed out nearly four miles of track. At the time, the Army estimated that it would not be able to reduce the water flow from its dams and mitigate the flooding until some time in October. While the railroad was able to divert traffic to alternate routes, the detours were expensive, requiring extra crews, causing delays to shipments due to congestion on the remaining routes, and reducing the pro- ductivity of the car and locomotive fleets. BNSF says that at the height of the flooding, 40 per cent of its trains were detoured and 500 crewmembers were redeployed away from the affected areas.

The railroad could not afford to wait three or four months for the water to recede, and so in July it embarked on a bold plan, which ultimate- ly cost about $375 million, to rebuild the ruined trackage and bridges — with the river still run- ning above flood stage. So in early July, BNSF forces and contrac-

tors attacked the breach from both ends. U.S. highway 159 roughly parallels the railroad be- tween the Missouri River bridge at Rulo and Fortescu, but it also was submerged. Crews built up the embankment from the east end for road access and brought in cranes and other


equipment mounted on barges from the west. While working 24 hours a day in fast-moving water up to 50 feet deep, crews demolished the remains of the original bridges and built five new spans ranging in length from 180 to 600 feet. Riprap and fill was brought in using earthmovers, side dump cars, and a George- town Dump Train.

On Saturday September 3, trains began to

move over the St. Joseph sub once more as work was completed nearly a week ahead of schedule. At press time in mid October, parts of the Napier and Omaha Subs were still out of service as the water continued to slowly re- cede, but most BNSF traffic had been returned to its normal routes.—WALT LANKENAU


OPPOSITE TOP: Eastbound coal loads for Scherer, Ga., pass through Napier, Mo., on September 4, 2011, the day after the St. Joseph Subdivi- sion reopened. Missouri River floodwaters closed this busy line, which normally handles over 40 trains a day, in late June, forcing reroutes via the Emporia and Avard subdivisions and other BNSF routes. Behind the coal train is a work train which will dump more rock on the fill west of the junction. LEFT: While the flood raged through July and August, crews

worked from barges to replace Bridge 102.19 at Big Lake, Mo., located be- tween Rulo and Fortescue. TOP: On June 29, the St. Joseph Sub was under water at Napier, as seen from the U.S. 159 overpass. ABOVE: An eastbound coal train headed for Sadler, Mo., crosses Bridge 100.7 at the east end of the reconstructed trackage near Fortescue on September 4, still surrounded by floodwaters. BNSF crews and contractors raised raised four miles of track and built five bridges in two months.


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