by Jeff Goutcher
RailUSA’s Tallahassee based Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad (FGA) recently completed an extensive project to rebuild 20 bridges along its line, which will improve service to customers while ensuring operations remains as safe and efficient as possible.
In late 2019, a routine inspection found defects in ten bridges that were a safety concern. Out of an abundance of caution, all ten bridges were taken out of service. The ten bridges were grouped together along the middle of FGA’s 430-mile Florida Panhandle line which essentially cut the railroad in half and impacted service to some customer facilities. The bridge inspection continued along the line and found an additional ten bridges that needed heavy repairs, bringing the total to 20 bridges.
The first priority was to ensure rail service to customers would not be interrupted, so FGA coordinated with partner CSX Transportation to re-route traffic around the out-of-service bridges. FGA also re-positioned locomotives and revised the service plan to ensure customers could be served with minimal disruption.
What happened next was an extraordinary feat involving the Florida Department of Transportation, contractor Brinks Construction, and FGA maintenance forces. RailUSA committed nearly $4 million to fund the needed repairs and the State of Florida Department of Transportation contributed just over $130,000.
The work began in early 2020 and took nearly eight months to complete, wrapping up in late August 2020. The final inspection confirmed the work was concluded on schedule, injury free and without additional damage to property and equipment.
FGA is committed to safely serving customers in North Florida and Southern Georgia and putting the bridges back into service is part of that commitment.