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Hurricane Gustav Response

Damaged Railroad Track Repair

Location: LaPlace, LA

Client: Class I Railroad

Due to significant damage to 12 miles of railroad track that runs along the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain, EMR’s first order of business was to clear debris from the track so that a more accurate assessment could be made of the damage. Debris consisted of trees, limbs, logs, boats, lumber, roofing, rocks, dead animals, trash, and other assorted items brought in by high winds and high water. Trackhoes and backhoes removed debris from the track, while dozers pushed it well away from the rail bed. Using airboats, a helicopter, and an airplane, EMR and railroad personnel conducted an inspection which revealed washed out areas of track up to 8 feet deep and a quarter mile long. Due to the track being damaged and impassable road conditions, it was impossible to haul in rock using rail cars or dump trucks. As a workaround, EMR was able to reclaim over 100 truckloads of rock from the bay in order to rebuild the track enough to get rock trains into the area. Reclaimed rock consisted of 10-inch to 20-inch diameter riprap and 2-inch to 4-inch diameter mainline ballast.


EMR crews initially worked around the clock, then in 16-hour to 18-hour shifts to rebuild the track. Trackhoes and backhoes were used to lift the rails and ties as a unit from the rail bed and set them off 20 feet from the edge of the rail bed. Once the rail bed was repaired, heavy equipment was used to lift the rails and ties and place them back on the rail bed, imbedding the ties and adjusting the rails, as needed.


After the track was made passable, EMR brought in over 150 railroad cars of rock to rebuild the track to fully operational condition. Rock hauled in by railcar ranged from mainline ballast to 60-inch diameter riprap. Land survey crews assisted EMR in the final grading of the rail bed. Once the track was rebuilt to railroad specifications, EMR constructed a 12-mile long rock wall (10-feet wide by 8-feet high) to help defend against future washouts.

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