Board members of the Wawasee Property Owners Association expressed concern over the condition of the CSX railroad bridge over the channel connecting Syracuse and Wawasee lakes last Saturday during its annual public board meeting.
Since then the WPOA has hired an independent engineering firm to take a look at the bridge.
(Related: Condition of Railroad Bridge A Concern)
InkFreeNews.com contacted CSX officials to learn more about the bridge and what the latest inspection revealed. Contact has also been made with the Federal Railroad Administration.
Gail Lobin, CSX Corporate Communications, stated the bridge was built in 1911 and had an annual inspection in April 2015, by a CSX bridge inspector. The inspection was conducted in accordance with the Federal Railroad Administration guidelines and CSX’s bridge management program.
“The bridge’s condition was found to be suitable for the safe transportation of the freight it carries on a daily basis. Additionally, the tracks that cross the bridge are inspected visually several times each week, and sophisticated ultrasound inspections of the internal condition of the rails are conducted on a schedule that varies from three to 12 times annually, depending on the volume of freight on that rail line, and other factors. In addition, a specialized track geometry car — which measures certain characteristics of the tracks such as position, curvature and alignment of the rails — is used to inspect the track at least annually.”
While the bridge was found “suitable,” Lobin was also asked if the bridge is on a list to be patched or repaired to keep pieces of concrete from further falling into the lake. She stated a CSX maintenance crew “will be inspecting the area in question by boat within the next couple of weeks.”
Lobin’s communication stated the company’s bridge management program “is consistent with Federal Railroad Administration guidelines. The program establishes criteria for evaluating the condition of bridges based on sound engineering principles, specifies the frequency and procedures for inspection of each bridge, defines the qualifications of the employees who conduct the inspections and includes audit procedures to ensure the effectiveness of the program.”
Lobin further stated the company’s commitment to safety is its highest priority. “Our safety commitment extends to the integrity of the bridges on our network. CSX operates over 21,000 miles of track throughout the eastern United States, including access to more than 16,000 bridges. The company spends more than $1 billion annually and dedicates approximately 25 percent of its workforce to maintaining its critical infrastructure, including bridges, to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient service for customers, communities and economic development.”
Lobin noted the company invites citizens to report any safety concerns they have about bridges, crossings or other aspect of railroad operations. These reports can be made through the Tell CSX system by calling (877) 835-5279 or online through the contact us section at www.csx.com
Lobin stated that system allows the company to log reports and quickly pass them to appropriate departments and personnel for review and action as appropriate.