The Vermont Agency of Transportation reports that the State owned rail lines have sustained heavy damage from Tropical Storm Irene. All of the railroad bridges in the affected area have been inspected for damage and for safety. Five bridges on the State system have incurred major structural damage and need major repairs before the rail can be open for freight traffic. On the Green Mountain line (GMRC) there are three bridges that have been compromised: bridges #114 and #121 in the Town of Chester; and bridge #130 in the Town of Cavendish. On the Vermont Rail South (VTR) bridge #62 in the Town of Arlington had its abutment undermined. In the Town of Hartland on the Connecticut River Line bridge #541 had one of the middle piers settle more than six feet from its proper location. The Hartland bridge presents a potential safety hazard and VTrans has deployed contractors to stabilize the bridge as quickly as possible. One of the largest cranes in New England is being mobilized to this bridge location today to stabilize the bridge and allow work crews to install a temporary shoring to allow freight traffic to be reopened. Engineering and construction crews have been dispatched to all of the damaged bridges on the State owned system. Of the State owned rail lines, the Green Mountain rail line (GMRC) and the Vermont Rail South (VTR) experienced the greatest damage to the rail bed and bridges. Damage includes washouts, culvert failures, bank slides and erosion of the rail bed. Vermont Rail Systems have been out in force since the event began both assessing damage and conducting repairs. ‘In 40 years of the railroad business I have seen all kinds of damage to rail infrastructure but I have never seen anything quite like this both in how widespread it is and the severity of the damage,’ said David Wulfson, President of Vermont Rail Systems. ‘I’m happy to report that the VTR is open for freight traffic from Burlington to Rutland and on into Whitehall New York and the Ethan Allen Amtrak passenger rail service resumed yesterday with some speed restrictions,’ Wulfson stated. ‘Our worse bridge is #114 in Chester, it should take two weeks to repair if we don’t receive any more damage from the flash floods that are expected in the weather forecast,’ continued Wulfson. ‘I really appreciate the quick response from VTrans putting people to work quickly and I want to thank my customers and vendors both of whom have been amazing. It has been heartwarming to see the reaction all throughout Vermont from the State workers to the quarry owners who have kept their facilities open 24/7 to help rebuild, everyone is just working so well together,’ said Wulfson. In addition to the five bridges that received major structural damage, on the VTR South, bridges #69, #80, #88 and #94 need to be re-inspected since the water level has dropped and more of the structure can now be inspected. VTrans bridge and rail line inspection crews will be back out on the GMRC tomorrow inspecting culverts and other hydrological infrastructure for blockages, failures and other safety issues. The Vermont Rail Systems restored freight traffic on September 1from Burlington to Rutland to Whitehall New York. Vermont Rail Systems estimates three to four weeks for the GMRC to begin moving freight, barring any unforeseen circumstances or additional damage from flooding.