On 10 September 2012 a group from the
UIUC AREMA Student Chapter
had an opportunity to observe the span replacement of a trestle crossing Bruner
Creek just to the west of Huntingburg, IN. The bridge is at milepost 200.3
West in Southern East district of the Norfolk Southern Illinois Division.
The existing bridge contained separate deck spans for the mainline and siding
tracks. The entire structure was 186 feet long with a 70-foot span and probably
dated from sometime in the late 1960's or early 1970's.
The approaches were reconstructed under the active line in the months prior
to the span replacement. The replacement span was constructed just to the
north of the existing span. On the replacement day, the track was shut down
from 8am to 6pm. The old track and spans were removed in the morning. The
new span was rolled into place on casters, lifted on jacks to remove the casters,
and then lowered onto four corner bearings.
The contractor was Cooper Rail Service
While the line was shut down, some repair work was done on a smaller
bridge just to the East over Hunley Creek. Standing water had corroded
some H-beam piers at the waterline and new metal was welded over the
The bridge workers estimated that the Hunley Creek bridge also dated
from the late 1960's, which was a difficult period for the railroads
as they faced declining traffic due to highway competition while still
dealing with a cumbersome regulatory regime dating from a time when railroads had
a monopoly on freight traffic. The infrastructure of this period
seemed to suffer, with bridge crews making do with whatever capital
and materials were available. Accordingly, the substructure of the
Hunley Creek bridge had a haphazard quality, especially in comparison
to the better-capitalized reconstruction of the new bridge over Bruner Creek.
We build for our descendants. Our job is to be good ancestors.
Special thanks to Howard Swanson and Randy Ziliak of the Norfolk Southern
Railroad for their invitation and hospitality, and to Brennan Caughron,
president of the UIUC AREMA Student Chapter, for organizing the field trip.