BNSF Checks For Track Damage

U.S. freight railroads are watching how tropical depression Cristobal might affect operations as it moves inland.

The storm made landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana, late Sunday evening and is expected to travel up the Mississippi River. Area flooding could potentially disrupt rail operations temporarily.  

"Now that Cristobal is north of BNSF tracks in Louisiana, our maintenance-of-way crews are beginning inspections to ensure there is no damage. We are in ongoing discussions with local governments to monitor flood levels and floodgate operations," said BNSF BRK spokesman Ben Wilemon. "BNSF will continue to closely monitor the storm as Cristobal heads north toward Memphis and Chicago."

The Florida Avenue Bridge near the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), located near the floodgates by Florida Avenue, is still open to rail and marine traffic, although it is closed to vehicular traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians, according to a June 7 port update at 6 p.m. CDT.  

Earlier today, FreightWaves reported that the Port NOLA Container Terminal (New Orleans Terminal and Ports America) would be closed today, June 8, as well as all breakbulk terminals. Normal business operations will resume Tuesday, June 9.

The New Orleans Flood Protection Authority had closed some flood gates ahead of the storm, but has since reopened two of them although three other gates remain closed as of 12:30 p.m. EDT. The U.S. Coast Guard also restricted traffic coming in and out of Port NOLA on Sunday.

Last Friday, June 5, Norfolk Southern NSC warned of potential delays as a result of Cristobal, according to a customer update. Union Pacific UNP said it was preparing its network in the event of potential outages.

This story is developing.

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