Key Brownville rail connection restored, railroad says

Construction workers repair a secion of rail road track in Brownville on Monday, June 25, 2012, that was washed out by flash flood waters on Sunday.
Construction workers repair a secion of rail road track in Brownville on Monday, June 25, 2012, that was washed out by flash flood waters on Sunday. Buy Photo
Posted July 05, 2012, at 6:43 p.m.

BROWNVILLE, Maine — A key statewide railroad connection wiped out by heavy flooding late last month has been repaired, but final restoration will take two weeks, the property’s owner said Thursday.

Robert Grindrod, CEO and president of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd., said the last of the repairs, which reopened a northbound line through Brownville, occurred Monday morning, just in time for some large state industries that depend on rail service.

“It was sufficiently repaired to make the tracks operable and safe,” Grindrod said Thursday. “Things are pretty much back to normal.”

In what a National Weather Service worker called one of the stranger events he has seen, a thunderstorm stalled over a 3½-mile area of Brownville on June 23-24. The downpour overwhelmed the town’s flood defenses, with at least 6 inches of rain falling within three or four hours.

Estimates of total damage have gone higher than $4 million, though a Maine Emergency Management Agency official has expressed doubt that the storm would qualify for federal aid because the area it hit simply was not big enough.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Gov. Paul LePage and town officials have said they would do whatever they could to help repair damage and are looking for all available relief-aid services. Estimates are being compiled and no decisions have been made.

LePage has about 30 days to file a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Among the damage likely not to be covered by FEMA guidelines is the approximately $500,000 that Grindrod has said MM&A will have to spend on rail track damage repair. The $500,000-a-day impact that he says the damaged rail line had on businesses statewide is likely to be covered.

The final restoration work is continuing, Grindrod said.

“What you do is make the emergency repairs the first pass and then you make more permanent repairs,” Grindrod said. “Some of that work is ongoing.”

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