Author: Bruce E. Kelly

BNSF Breaks Ground for Second Sandpoint Bridge

The first signs of physical progress have been made in BNSF Railway’s long-awaited plan to build a second bridge, nearly a mile in length, running parallel to its existing bridge across Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, Idaho. Preliminary grading began in September 2019 on both sides of the lake to prepare the approaches to the new bridge. Within the city of Sandpoint itself, grade work has included the construction of a pedestrian tunnel—paid for by BNSF—which will safely maintain public access through railroad property to a popular beach and lakeside trail.

U.S. Rails Monitoring Canadian Crude

The derailment of two separate oil trains roughly two months apart near Guernsey, Sask., each spilling more than 300,000 gallons of crude onto the ground and one igniting into a smoldering inferno, plus the resulting 30-day mandatory speed limit on such trains imposed by Transport Canada (20 mph in urban areas, 25 mph elsewhere), have raised questions about not only the cause of those derailments, but also about the durability of the tank cars, and the volatility of the crude they were carrying. It should also raise questions, and awareness, about the transport of Canadian crude on the U.S. rail system.

More growth planned for UP-CP Can-Am Corridor

The past two decades have been a time of steady growth for Union Pacific’s only route to the Canadian border, running from Hinkle, Ore., north through Spokane, Wash., to Eastport, Idaho. Capacity improvements performed over the past several years, and more scheduled for 2019, are evidence of UP’s commitment to accommodate new business through this seldom-mentioned international gateway.

What if Shasta blows its top?

To an industry that routinely faces the aftermath of flooding, mudslides, avalanches, hurricanes and even earthquakes, the concept of service disruption due to an erupting volcano seems almost unthinkable. But according to a recent study, and judging by the not-so-distant history of volcanoes in the U.S., some railroads are in fact quite vulnerable to such disasters, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.