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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Sunday, September 24, 2006

NS back in business in Pennsylvania

Work crews opened all three Norfolk Southern Ry. tracks adjacent to Ohio River Boulevard in Kilbuck, Penn., where Tuesday’s massive landslide at a shopping plaza construction site shut down the railroad line and busy traffic arteries.

Between 70 and 90 trains a day typically travel on the line, including Amtrak’s Nos. 29 and 30 between Washington and Chicago. Both trains were rerouted.

A parallel highway, four-lane Route 65, remained blocked, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday.

Rain made the task especially messy and difficult, a PennDOT official said, but it should not impede progress. The disturbed soil is loose and can act like a sponge, so heavy rain will add to the weight of the earth and could be a stabilizing factor, he said.

Heavy equipment operators are hoping to have dirt and other material cleared from two the lanes this morning, which were buried under more than 30 feet of debris.

The landslide began Tuesday night on land ASC Development, Inc. started excavating at a former hospital site. The land is being developed into a shopping complex.

The landslide moved up to 600,000 cubic yards of earth being used to create a plateau for the shopping center and an expansive parking lot, but PennDOT officials estimate that 250,000 to 300,000 cubic yards of material actually slid, with 50,000 cubic yards coming to rest on Route 65.

On Friday, NS told its customers it had “issued an embargo of all shipments normally moving via this route.”

Impacted shipments included freight between NS points – or interchange – in the West or Midwest, “including Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky and points in Pennsylvania east of Pittsburgh, as well as all stations in New Jersey and Delaware.”

NS stated, “The embargo does not apply to unit train shipments, which will be held and moved as conditions permit or rerouted. However, trains likely to encounter significant delays.”

In a note to customers with “committed service agreements, the railroad stated it “invoked force majeure effective 1:00 p.m., September 21 on all traffic moving through this area.”


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