Located between Buffalo and Binghamton on the railroad’s Southern Tier Line, the 963-foot-long bridge connects New York businesses to markets in the Midwest and New England, trade with Canada, and access to New York City. After two years of construction, Norfolk Southern began operating trains in December over the new span, constructed 75 feet south of the former bridge.
In addition to enhancing rail safety and operating efficiencies, the new span enables Norfolk Southern to transport rail cars loaded to the industry standard 286,000 pounds, an important benefit for shippers. The old iron truss bridge it replaced – built in 1875 by the Erie Railroad and unable to support modern freight rail needs – created supply-chain inefficiencies. Rail car weights had to be reduced 13,000 pounds below the standard, and train speed was restricted to 10 mph. Trains crossing the new bridge are operating at up to 30 mph with fully loaded cars.
New York-based businesses benefitting include 10 short line railroads that service and connect local industries to Norfolk Southern’s network. Norfolk Southern transports freight across the Southern Tier for about 1,100 customers in more than 20 states.
New York State funded $15.5 million for the bridge’s design and construction, including a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and $13.5 million in state and federal funds through the New York State Department of Transportation. Norfolk Southern invested $59.5 million. The project qualified for funding through the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality improvement program, in recognition of freight rail’s environmental benefits of reduced carbon emissions compared with shipping goods by truck.
“This modern engineering marvel demonstrates Norfolk Southern’s commitment to meet our customers’ transportation needs while being good stewards of the environment,” said Vice President Engineering Phil Merilli. “Only a few arch bridges of this type have been built by the rail industry in the past century, making this a truly unique experience.”
Through the partnership, Norfolk Southern improved trails and public access to Letchworth State Park and preserved portions of the old bridge for use in historical exhibits. The new bridge’s arch design minimizes the railroad’s environmental footprint in the Genesee River and frames a striking view of the river gorge.
“The completion of this new rail bridge complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park as park visitors will continue to marvel at one of the more impressive structures spanning the picturesque Genesee River gorge,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “I applaud Gov. Cuomo for taking the necessary actions that have resulted in a safer, more efficient rail bridge that will serve the Genesee and Finger Lakes communities for many years to come.”
State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan said: “The dedication of the new Genesee Arch Bridge is a celebration of years of planning and hard work. We can all marvel at the ingenuity of the engineers who designed the bridge in such a way that it not only meets the transportation needs of the 21st century, it restores the Genesee River to its natural state and complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park. This new span will support the economy of the Southern Tier for years to come and is a symbol of our bright future.”
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 19,500 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
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