by Lorien Nettleton ~ September 24th, 2012
Alaska Railroad track repair crews have made better-than-expected progress in repairing a major washout that has left 500 feet of the mainline track dangling just south of Gold Creek (Milepost 261, about 35 miles north of Talkeetna). Barring additional flood damage, crews estimate repair will be completed by Tuesday afternoon or evening, allowing train traffic to resume north of Wasilla.
This section of washed out track runs parallel to the Susitna River and is accessible only by rail. Thirty-five railroad crew members are working double-shifts around-the-clock to rebuild the track bed using large rocks and fill material hauled in from both sides of the site. Equipment involves bulldozers, excavators, and two work trains.
The area of focus since Friday has been a 70-mile stretch of rail corridor between Willow and Gold Creek, where the track and several bridges have been impacted by high, fast water. Once the Gold Creek area washout is repaired, crews will turn their attention to the less severe water erosion that has occurred all along the line, from Seward to Nenana.