Sixteen days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Norfolk Southern Corp. has completed repairs to its Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, restoring rail freight service into New Orleans and reopening important interchange points with western rail carriers.
Norfolk Southern Chairman and CEO David R. Goode said, “The resumption of rail service following this disaster is a tribute to the dedication and efforts of Norfolk Southern people. They did the job in record time - safely and under extremely challenging conditions - in order to bring rail service back to New Orleans.”
Nearly five miles of track were washed from the top of the 5.8-mile long rail bridge and into the lake. Nine cranes on barges were used to lift the track out of the water and back onto the bridge. Nine miles of track running through New Orleans itself required major repairs due to washouts and other water-related problems.
Since the hurricane struck, Norfolk Southern employees have inspected some 1,400 miles of railroad track, removed 5,500 downed trees, installed 11,000 railroad ties and unloaded and surfaced track on 55,000 tons of ballast to restore bridges and rail lines to service.
While repairs were being completed, freight that regularly traveled through New Orleans for connection to other carriers was rerouted through the railroad’s other gateways.
“With the reopening of the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, we are ready to assist in the transportation of supplies and materials in and out of the city,” said Norfolk Southern President Wick Moorman. “We are committed to serving New Orleans over the long-term, and our rail line can serve as a vital link in the recovery process.”
Norfolk Southern is assessing the financial impact of the hurricane on third-quarter results and will report an estimate when it has been determined.