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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Work will begin in April to repair train tracks

Grinnell students were treated to an unpleasant surprise this week as they learned that Grinnell’s trademark train — a College staple for well over a hundred years — has been diverted due to structural issues with the tracks.

Students received the news from several Senators’ mini-minutes on Sunday, Feb. 24, after it was discussed during Student Senate. The SGA Cabinet itself was informed of the news by James Shropshire, the Director of Campus Security, in one of the Cabinet’s regular meetings with college administrators on Feb. 22, according to SGA President Myles Becker ’19.

According to Becker, Shropshire told the Cabinet that Union Pacific Railroad temporarily rerouted their trains in order to avoid the afflicted stretch of track until it can be fixed. Separately, Director of Water Resources for the City Jan Anderson could not confirm that the trains have been rerouted.

Shropshire did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The stretch of tracks affected is on the north side of Tenth Avenue, near the College tennis courts and the Bear.

According to Anderson, the issue arose after a storm sewer pipe underneath the tracks rusted out. That caused soil underneath the tracks to wash away, leaving little structural support for the tracks to rely upon.

Anderson wasn’t surprised that the pipe was causing problems. “The pipe itself —I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred years old. … It’s outlasted its usefulness,” he said.

The issue was first spotted and reported by a concerned community member, after which the City began working with Union Pacific in September.

“Dealing with the railroad is a little bit different,” said Anderson. “As slow as the City’s wheels turn at times, the railroad’s turn slower.”

Last month, Union Pacific officially approved the project, and the City immediately began to gather quotes. According to Anderson, the City has secured an outside contractor to begin work April 1. The contractor intends to abandon the failed pipe, fill it with flowable mortar and reroute the pipes.

Anderson said that workers will strive to keep one-way traffic open on Tenth Avenue during the project but that there will still be times when the street must be closed down for workers to do their jobs. However, he said that access to College athletic fields will still be maintained for students.

While Anderson cautioned that the duration of these kinds of projects are hard to predict, especially given the weather, he estimated it would be done within a month, at which point Union Pacific will reroute their trains back through Grinnell and students can give a sigh of relief.

Repairs will begin in April on the tracks across Tenth Avenue, near the Bear. Photo by Andrew Tucker.
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