News Release

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Flooding is impacting all modes of transportation in Iowa

June 11, 2008

AMES, Iowa – Flooding in Iowa is impacting all modes of transportation, according to reports received by the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT). The impacts to the infrastructure, mobility, businesses, and economy are being felt by many.

Below is a summary of some of the recent reports the Iowa DOT has received from transit agencies, the aviation community, railroad companies, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Transit services

  • General information:
    • Most of the urban transit systems in the flooded areas have rerouted buses around flooded portions of their communities.
    • Nearly all transit systems, urban and regional, have been assisting in the evacuation of others around their communities.
  • Region 8 evacuated their storage facility in Manchester.
  • The Waterloo Metropolitan Transit Authority (MET) has moved out of their facility due to the evacuation of that community.
  • The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) has been evacuating their offices today. For available route information, visit: http://www.dmmta.com/ or call 515-283-8100.

Aviation services

  • General information:
    • The weather system associated with today's additional rainfall could temporarily affect commercial and general aviation flights in and out of Iowa. However, aviation activity in Iowa remains mostly unaffected by flooding around the state.
    • Runways remain unaffected at commercial service airports; however, travel to and from airports is impacting travelers in some areas.
    • Aviation services are commonly used during and after flood events to conduct aerial surveillance, for news reporting, transportation of people and supplies for flood assistance, search and rescue, and law enforcement activity.
  • Isolated runway closures have been reported at airports in Iowa Falls and Shenandoah, Iowa. Currently, both airports are open for air traffic.
  • The Iowa City Municipal Airport is on a flood watch over the next several days and has warned aircraft owners at the airport they should be prepared to move aircraft to higher ground on the airport in the event of flooding from the Iowa River.

Rail services
The Iowa DOT has been in communication with railroad companies serving Iowa and has received the following information about the condition of service in and routed through the state.

  • In general:
    • Several rail lines in Iowa have been or continue to be affected by flooding, which is having a significant impact on freight movements.
    • There have been several rail line washouts that require repair.
    • Several lines are open, although they are operating under speed restrictions.
    • Communication and cooperation exists among the railroad companies. Where possible, rail companies are assisting each other reroute train traffic and provide service to customers. Others are sending emergency shipments of rip-rap, ballast and other resources.
    • It is a common practice for some railroad companies to park filled rail cars on certain bridges when there is high water to add weight and stability to the bridge. The cars are filled with rock, ballast, scrap metal or other heavy inert materials.
  • Amtrak is presently experiencing no service outages on either Iowa route due to high water levels. Amtrak operates two long-distance trains through Iowa - the California Zephyr (daily Chicago-Burlington-Osceola-Denver-San Francisco Bay Area) and Southwest Chief (daily Chicago-Fort Madison-Kansas City-
    Los Angeles).
  • Both Union Pacific (UP) main lines near Tama, Iowa, are closed because of water over the tracks and considerable washout. The UP’s track is closed on the north-south line through Des Moines, Iowa, due to water over the rail from the Des Moines River. Estimated reopening time for both closures will depend on when the water recedes.

    The UP railroad operates 1,480 miles in Iowa, including a main line from Clinton to Council Bluffs, Iowa; and another north-south route through central Iowa, along with many branch lines.

  • The Des Moines flood gates have been closed and will remain closed for several days. This stops Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) traffic to Council Bluffs, Iowa, a heavy intermodal lane. IAIS is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and provides service from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Chicago, with a branch line to Peoria, Ill. The company provides intermodal facilities at Blue Island, Ill.; and West Liberty, Newton and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company’s (CRANDIC/CIC) main line is shut down due to flooding in Iowa City. One of the primary users of this line is Archer Daniels Midland Company’s ethanol and corn syrup business. It will be several days before they can evaluate line conditions. The Cedar River railroad bridge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is also closed, preventing the rail line’s access to IANR and CN. CRANDIC’s main line runs from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City, Iowa.
  • The Canadian National (CN) lost part of a bridge over the Boyer River near Dow City, Iowa, late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Work to replace it is proceeding. CN is the only railroad that crosses the continent east-west and north-south, serving ports on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts, while linking customers to all three NAFTA nations.
  • The south part of the Iowa River Railroad line is out of service between Gifford and Marshalltown, Iowa. Flooding has had a devastating affect on this start-up rail line, which parallels the Iowa River. The Iowa River Railroad was formed in 2006 when the railroad purchased the Union Pacific line from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock, Iowa. The railroad also acquired the portion of track from Steamboat Rock to Ackley, Iowa. The railroad is principally owned by the shippers on the line.
  • The Boone and Scenic Railroad (BSV) is reporting that they have shortened their route and reduced fares for their excursion train due to water over some portions of their track. Since 1983, BSV has operated a passenger excursion train over the 12 miles of track from Boone to Wolf, Iowa.
  • Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY) expects their Twin River yard will be out of service and the Keokuk, Iowa, office flooded, but service will continue where possible with likely delays. KJRY operates a common carrier railroad line within the city of Keokuk; from Keokuk to LaHarpe, Ill.; and a branch line from Hamilton to Warsaw, Ill., a total of approximately 38 miles. 
  • Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (IC&E Railroad) has had significant washouts between Mason City and Nora Springs, and Charles City and Ossian, Iowa. Rail traffic is being rerouted between Mason City and Marquette, Iowa. IC&E is expecting they will be out of service beginning Thursday evening, June 12, in Davenport, Muscatine and Columbus Junction, Iowa, due to water over the tracks.

    IC&E Railroad began operations is 2002. IC&E's main lines extend from Chicago to Kansas City, Mo.; and from Sabula, Iowa, on the Mississippi River northwesterly to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Their branch lines extend from Marquette west to Mason City and Sheldon, Iowa; and from Austin to Jackson and to Rosemount, Minn.
  • Iowa Northern Railway Company’s line in Clarksville, Iowa, sustained extensive damage. Iowa Northern parallels the Shell Rock River, and has experienced many flooded and washed out areas.

At least a third of the UP’s railroad bridge parallel to Sixth Street in downtown Waterloo, Iowa, was washed away Tuesday by Cedar River floodwaters. This bridge is leased to Iowa Northern Railroad (IANR) and serves John Deere's East Donald Street Tractor Works. John Deere tractors are transported by rail over that line to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Iowa Northern Railway Company’s operation covers 163 miles in Iowa from Cedar Rapids to Manly, Iowa.

  • Portions of the Iowa Traction Railroad (IATR) line in Mason City, Iowa, were washed out, but repairs have been made. The IATR extends about 10 miles from Mason City westward to Clear Lake, Iowa.

Waterways
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a 250-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is expected to close Thursday, bringing barge traffic to a halt. The corps plans to close locks and dams from Fulton, Ill., to Clarksville, Mo. Shippers have been told to get their tows off the river before it closes. The closure could last up to two weeks. The only lock and dam in this stretch of the river that won't be affected is at Keokuk, Iowa, because the gates are high enough that they shouldn't be affected.

The closing will stop barges carrying everything from grain and coal to steel and fertilizer. The economic impact could be wide ranging.

A typical tugboat on the Mississippi River is pushing 15 barges, or the equivalent of at least 60 semitrailer loads. A typical barge section is 35 feet by 195 feet and can hold as much as 1,500 tons (3 million pounds) of cargo.

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Iowa highway in the evening