CSX contributes to Hurricane Idalia relief. Also, Canadian Pacific Kansas City’s (CPKC) Hockey Tournament raises C$96,600 for Heart Beats Children’s Society; Norfolk Southern (NS) helps create an interactive rail exhibit at the Pullman State Historic Site and Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago; and Union Pacific (UP) seeks residents’ permission for extensive soil testing in the Fifth Ward.
CSX has contributed $50,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in areas impacted by Hurricane Idalia, which has caused severe flooding and wind damage in parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The Class I railroad will also match CSX employee contributions to the Red Cross and the CSX Employee Disaster Relief Fund.
Additionally, CSX is donating 21 pallets of water for residents in the Tallahassee, Fla., area and a freight trailer of ice to a United Way distribution point operated by the Army National Guard in Mayo, Fla.
CSX employees who would like to contribute to the Employees Disaster Relief Fund (ERDF) or the American Red Cross through the matching gifts program should visit the CSX Volunteer and Giving Center. The ERDF, CSX says, provides financial assistance to employees who have suffered severe damage to their homes and property. Impacted employees in need of assistance should visit the Community section of the company’s Gateway for additional information.
Donations to the Red Cross will support a wide range of assistance to the impacted region. The organization has provided safe shelter, food and health services in addition to supporting emergency response agencies and assisting with damage assessment.
“CSX is deeply connected to communities in the areas that took a hit from Hurricane Idalia, and we are grateful to the American Red Cross and all agencies that are responding with assistance for impacted families,” said CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs. “Many CSX employees live in the impacted region, and we know the resilience of the communities currently working to assess damage, clean up and rebuild.”
CPKC announced via a LinkedIn post that its Hockey Tournament has raised C$96,600 for Heart Beats, a Calgary charity focused on supporting children with heart disease.
NS via a LinkedIn post announced on Sept. 3 that it has pledged to help create an interactive rail exhibit at the Pullman State Historic Site and Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago where visitors will experience close up the historic railcars on display, including those once manufactured on the historical site.
The commitment, including a $250,000 from NS, coincides with the second anniversary of the park’s grand opening over Labor Day and “recognizes the significant historical contributions of Pullman’s impact on the American labor movement, civil rights movement and railcar transportation,” according to the Historic Pullman Foundation (HPF).
“Displaying these railcars will truly bring to life the story of rail innovation celebrate at the national park and state historic site,” said Joseph C. Szabo, HPF President Emeritus and former Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
At the request of the National Park Service (NPS) and with the support of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Szabo is facilitating an extensive collaboration involving NS and a range of experts to explore exhibiting railcars at the site.
“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to be part of this exciting announcement,” said Natalie Phelps Finnie, director of the department. “The cultural and historical significance of the Pullman site is unparalleled. This kind of collaboration among government, nonprofits, and private enterprise will help ensure the unique story of the Pullman site is brought to life and shared with future generations in a compelling, meaningful way.”
“Norfolk Southern’s pledge to help bring this exhibit to life underscores our long-term commitment to Chicago and will ensure Pullman’s story continues to evolve and inspire,” said NS Regional Vice President Government Relations Herbert Smith. “Rolling historic railcars from different eras directly onto the property will transform Park visitors’ experience. We couldn’t be more excited for the public to see first-hand our nation’s evolution in rail transportation from the beginning.”
Still in the planning phase, the exhibit is expected to restore about 1,000 feet of rail track and an accompanying rail support yard on the State Historic Site. It would also include a display structure over the support yard in front of the Rear Erecting Shop adjacent to 111th Street to protect the exhibit cars. “If this proposed project is approved, visitors would be able to get a first-hand view of what passenger train travel was like during its heyday,” Szabo said.
Planning for the project began earlier this year with an engineering and operational feasibility study. The proposed project would include the restoration of a spur track off NS’s Chicago Pullman Branch Line to directly serve the former Pullman railcar manufacturing plant by rail.
The estimated cost for the entire exhibit is still under study as part of the planning phase.
UP on Sept. 1 announced that it will be requesting permission from property owners in the Fifth Ward community in Houston, Texas, to sample soil in their yards.
The Class I railroad is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with the City of Houston, Harris County and Bayou City Initiative (BCI), to design a soil testing plan for properties located near the former Houston Wood Preserving Works (HWPW) site. According to UP, the railroad has already completed extensive remediation work at the former site.
UP is seeking permission from more than 300 residents and landowners located near the former HWPW site. Additionally, the railroad will test several parks, schools, and other properties.
Beginning the week of Sept. 11, UP representatives will begin going to certain EPA approved properties for soil testing. This effort, UP says, is part of the railroad’s commitment to “providing transparency and timely action to safeguard the community for generations to come.” Testing is the most accepted method to determine the degree of contamination at a location and its potential source.
Testing will be paid for by UP and completed under the guidance and approval of the EPA. Soil sampling is a simple and low-intrusive process that does not cause property damage; however, it requires a homeowner to grant UP and the EPA permission to access their property.
UP says it will make the complete test results available to the public once they have been received from an EPA approved laboratory and validated by scientists. The results, UP adds. will also help inform a risk assessment, enabling the EPA to make decisions about any next steps to protect the community.
UP, along with its collaborating partners at the City, County and BCI, asked the EPA to provide oversight for additional soil testing. The Houston Health Department independently conducted some additional sampling in September 2022. Although the Texas Department of State Health Services reviewed the city’s data and found no cancer or health concerns linked to the presence of chemicals, including dioxins, in the soil samples collected near the former HWPW site, UP says it “remains committed to bringing action and resolution to the community.”
“UP cares about the community; they deserve complete information and action. That’s why Union Pacific is committed to transparent, open communication throughout every next step until the job is complete,” said UP spokesperson Toni Harrison. “This means making sure sampling and testing, and every necessary next step enables the community to mend in a safe and sustainable environment for generations to come.”
According to UP, since inheriting the HWPW site in a 1997 merger, the railroad has made “measurable progress” with cleanup and remediation at the site, including more than 120 wells at the site and in neighboring Fifth Ward, creating an asphalt/concrete barrier to control exposure from underground creosote, and monitoring groundwater and removing creosote from the subsurface.
More information about the site, its history and remediation work to protect the community is available here.