Damage to an almost 80-year-old railroad bridge is not as severe as law enforcement predicted on Monday.
“The City of Prineville is one of the oldest, municipal-owned freight railroads and we are continually operated for over 100 years by the City of Prineville,” said Matt Wiederholt the General Manager of City of Prineville Railroad.
After an RV crashed into one of the support beams of a historic rail bridge, the railroad faced a scary reality.
ODOT bridge engineers surveyed the damage to the bridge, constructed in 1941, almost immediately.
“Tuesday evening, they determined that with speed restrictions and de-weighting the bridge, that we indeed could go over the bridge with rail traffic. So that was the best-case scenario for us,” Wiederholt said.
And a best-case scenario for the 53 clients the railroad serves daily.
I talked to two clients of the railroad today that told me the service is essential for their timber businesses and in one case, the railroad is the safest and greenest way to move timber from Canada to Central Oregon.
At the bridge, you can still see signs of damage and debris from the accident, including a sizable chunk taken out of one of the support pillars.
“Superficial damage to the nose of the concrete pier that was hit by the RV and then there’s damage to the bearings underneath the steel beams that go over the road,” said Ken Kirschling a Principle Bridge Engineer at Railstar.
The city railroad is quite profitable for Prineville, and with the excess funds going back into the health of the almost 19 rail lines and six miles of yard track trains cross every day, the bridge is still able to be used.
“So in this particular case, because they were reinvesting it, it’s proven to help us and be able to continue to serve our customers,” Wiederholt said.
The driver of the RV crash is alright, and the bridge will get the fixes it needs after the holidays, but for now, business is chugging along as usual.