The Federal Railroad Administration is giving the Iowa Northern Railway Company a grant of nearly $2.2 million to help rebuild a bridge across the Cedar River in Waterloo that was dropped by flooding last year. I.N.R. president, Dan Sabin says the grant is a big boost to his company’s efforts to recover from the flooding.
Sabin says his company is the only one that uses the bridge, but it is owned by Union Pacific, and their contract with U-P requires them to pay for 50% of the cost of replacing the bridge. He says that total replacement cost is expected to be about $6.2 million. Sabin says the state legislature has included one million dollars in its budget to help replace the bridge.
Sabin says the loss of the bridge has been a major headache to work around. He says they had to send things like John Deere tractors from Waterloo, to Manly and then down to Nevada and across to Cedar Rapids, which added an extra 300 miles in shipping. Sabin says the detours have doubled the cost of shipping corn on the line and they are only shipping about 40 percent of the corn they would normally ship.
The bids are expected to come in on the Waterloo bridge in the next couple of weeks, and he says construction could begin at the end of June with completion by the end of October. Sabin says work to repair the CRANDIC bridge the I.N.R. uses in Cedar Rapids is nearing completion, and they hope to start using it again at the end of June. Sabin says getting both bridges back will help the company’s bottom line.
Sabin says it’s costing them about $800,000 to one-million dollars a month in lost revenue and additional costs to have the bridges out of service, and it is probably costing their customers twice as much. The railway has built its business in hauling corn for ethanol plants, but Sabin says they’ve worked with the Union Pacific and the wind turbine industry is increasingly a bigger part of their freight.
He says they are expanding their Manly terminal to add 20 acres to the 20 that are there to handle wind turbine components and they are looking at expanding to handle more transmission line components — like poles, cable, wire and transformers — as that industry grows. Sabin says they will haul around 50,000 loads this year, and once the bridges are back in use they should climb to 70,000 loads.
The Iowa Northern covers some 165 miles and has about 89 employees.