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Detours ahead as crews repair railroad tracks

The project will affect about 30 crossings in Tampa. Each crossing will be closed for about four days.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002


Drivers should expect some road detours in the next several weeks as railroad crews replace old ties and rails along tracks in South Tampa.

"Track gangs" from CSX started north of Tampa last month and plan to work their way south by April. To avoid multiple closings, they repaired the crossing at S Howard Avenue near the Crosstown overpass this week.

The project will affect about 30 crossings in Tampa from Fowler Avenue to Ybor City to Port Tampa. Each will be closed for about four days.

"This is a very, very tough thing to do," said Ed Duncan, a city traffic coordinator. "It's just something we have to get through."

CSX covers about 11/2 miles of track a day using a specialized train that replaces the wooden ties and any worn out rails. The city sets up detours, cuts asphalt at the crossings and repaves them once the railroad crews finish.

The work is part of an ongoing project to maintain the railroad's 23,000 miles of track in the eastern United States. Crews do the northern states in the summer and the southern states in the winter.

The project is an essential, and costly, part of ensuring rail safety, said Kathy Burns, spokeswoman for CSX Transportation. The maintenance amounts to 60 percent of the railroad's annual $900-million capital budget.

The last time the railroad rebuilt the tracks was about 20 years ago, Duncan said. Over time, the rails settle and the ties wear out.

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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