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Seminole Gulf Railway faces lengthy closure after hurricane

By | October 5, 2022

Short line, only railroad in southwest Florida, could be shut down for six months

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Map of railroad in southwest Florida

Map of railroad in southwest FloridaFORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida’s Seminole Gulf Railway could be shut down for up to six months because of damage suffered from Hurricane Ian, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.

Executive Vice President Robert Fay told the Business Journal the railroad had lost six bridges as a result of the storm, including three totaling 1,300 linear feet in the Fort Myers area. And its yard in Arcadia, Fla., where it interchanges with CSX Transportation, is under water.

The loss of the 100-mile route between Arcadia to Bonita Springs, Fla., near Naples, is particularly critical to rebuilding efforts in the hard-hit Fort Myers area, given that the railroad’s traffic includes a variety of building materials including lumber, rebar, and aggregates, “and now they’re needed for the recovery,” Fay said.

The railroad carries about 2,500 carloads of freight annually. It will divert some carloads to a separate operation in the Sarasota area, but from there, they will have to be transloaded to trucks, which carries its own challenges.

5 thoughts on “Seminole Gulf Railway faces lengthy closure after hurricane

  1. Time for FEMA to speed up repairs. The amount of costruction equipment & grocery items neeeded may tear up the roads especially I-75 both north and east of Naples.. speed up could assign all the Railway workers both volunteers and active duty to help out. Maybe the class 1s can assign rebuilding equipment to help in the effort. Bridge work equipment especially needed.

  2. A quick tour of aerial imagery and it looks like the most likely location of that many lineal feet of bridge is in the railroad’s crossing of the Caloosahatchee River. I am not familiar with the area, but the bridge looks accessible by barge, which may speed access for construction. If it is just the timber approaches, replacement should be straight forward even if time consuming in terms of scale. If the moveable span is significantly damaged, that will be more problematic.

    1. correct. Noticed that bets still in lace will reduce pile driving time. However, major inspections will be needed for those still standing.

  3. I’m from just north of Ft. Myers, Port Charlotte FL. Drove along a good bit of Seminole Gulf trackage last Friday getting back to the area after evacuating. Just the stretch I saw, northwest of Arcadia was a disaster. Literally miles of track washed out and hanging in mid-air. And it looked like they had just finished a big track refurb effort – all brand new ties with huge piles of old beat up ties every mile or two. Such a shame, and as this post said, badly needed now.

    Thankfully the damage in Port Charlotte was not anything like further south. It’s a big mess, but not a catastrophe there for most folks. My place and my Mom’s came though the storm with minimal damage thankfully. As did my model railroad!

    I fully expect that other railroads will pitch in to help – everyone pulls together for recovery from these events. Something like 20K linemen from electric companies in 30 states are in the area restoring power right now.

    Kevin Rhodes
    Port Charlotte FL / Westbrook, ME

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