Crews are hard at work, racing to fix the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s bridge near Elk Creek before winter sets in.
Garrett Bonds, project manager of the Durango-based Bonds Construction, said the company was contracted by the D&SNG to lead the repair work.
A massive rainstorm in June created a significant logjam at the D&SNG’s bridge at Elk Creek, which in turn, caused about 30 to 40 feet of track north of the bridge to wash out, effectively cutting off trains from Silverton.
D&SNG officials estimated it could take up to 16 weeks to repair, which was further complicated by the fact the U.S. Forest Service on July 2 ordered the railroad to stop any repair work, saying plans needed to first be approved by the agency.
Later that month, the Forest Service gave the D&SNG the green light to go ahead with repairs.
But a recent inspection of the Elk Creek bridge and adjacent track farther south of Silverton has proved that damage is not as extensive as previously thought, namely, that the bridge did not need to be completely replaced.
Instead, most of the work will be focused on repairing the washed-out track.
“It’s going very well,” said Jeff Johnson, general manager of the D&SNG.
Johnson said the new rail should be replaced in the next few days, and trains could test it out as early as the end of next week.
The D&SNG hopes to have the ability to run trains to Silverton this year, but has no plans to do so, Johnson said.