OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Jim Young, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Nancy Richardson and Boone, Iowa, Mayor John Slight commemorated one of North America’s tallest double-track railroad bridges, the new Kate Shelley Bridge in Iowa spanning the Des Moines River.
Young, Richardson and Slight rode a Union Pacific train over the bridge, which is more than 2,800 feet long and 190 feet high. Representing an investment of more than $50 million by Union Pacific, the structure improves operating efficiency, supports growth in Union Pacific’s customers’ businesses and delivers increased freight capacity on the railroad’s busy corridor linking Chicago to the West Coast.
“The new Kate Shelley Bridge enhances our long-term ability to improve operational efficiency and customer service,” Young said. “Congratulations to all Union Pacific employees and contractors who worked on what is truly a modern-day engineering feat.”
“It is only fitting that the new bridge is given the name of the structure it replaced, Kate Shelley, to honor a person who helped save so many lives when she was able to help warn an oncoming passenger train that a bridge had washed out during a stormy night 1881,” Young added.
“Freight transportation is critical to the economic success of Iowa and the nation and moving freight by rail is a key component of the overall freight transportation network. I am very pleased to see the completion of the Union Pacific’s new Kate Shelley Bridge that improves the operational reliability and capacity of the rail system to meet the freight needs that are so critical to the agricultural and industrial base of Iowa,” said Iowa Department of Transportation Director Nancy Richardson.
“The City of Boone is proud to have Union Pacific as a corporate neighbor. The railroad is the largest employer in our area and for that we are grateful,” said Boone Mayor John Slight.
Built between 2006 and 2009, the new bridge was constructed to handle heavy trains such as coal and grain. The two tracks, 20 feet apart, are set on a ballast deck that is supported by reinforced concrete towers and steel piles. Two trains can operate on the bridge at the same time at the maximum speed of 70 mph. The first train operated over the bridge August 20.
OCCI, Inc., based in Fulton, Mo., was the contractor for the project and Omaha-based HDR Engineering Inc., provided the engineering for the bridge construction.
Since 1997, Union Pacific has invested more than $1 billion in Iowa in branch line upgrades, east-west corridor capacity improvements, ethanol and grain related projects, communication and signal improvements, and major projects such as the new Kate Shelley Bridge.
During 2009, Union Pacific plans to invest $2.6 billion in strengthening the track infrastructure across its more than 32,000-mile system. This extensive investment in the railroad’s track helps ensure Union Pacific has the capability to offer quality, safe and cost-effective service to meet its customers’ current and future transportation needs.
Expanded rail capacity benefits everyone. It allows freight rail service to grow, helping to build a cleaner environment – freight trains are four times more fuel efficient than trucks. Motorists also benefit from reduced congestion on America’s highways since a single train can remove up to 300 trucks off our roads.