BNSF charges city $50,000 for delaying trains 7.5 hours

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. – When two girders slipped last year on a pedestrian bridge being built across railroad tracks to Lincoln’s new Pinnacle Bank Arena, the bridge failure delayed the bridge opening two months and racked up an extra $800,000 in repairs.

FAIL: Last year two girders slipped on a pedestrian bridge under construction over railroad tracks near Lincoln’s new arena, delaying train traffic for nearly eight hours.

Among the collateral damage was $50,000 the city had to pay BNSF Railway because train traffic below the bridge was delayed for 7.5 hours the day the bridge failed.

That caused a backlog of trains waiting to move again, so the last train may have waited up to 12 hours, according to a BNSF claim.

Each hour of train delays cost the city $382, according to Assistant City Controller Mark Leikam.

The West Haymarket joint public agency — created to oversee development of the arena and surrounding railyard — paid the bill earlier this year, according to its payment register.

West Haymarket project manager Paula Yancey Portz said the city is still working with the contractor, Hawkins Construction, to resolve who is responsible for paying the $800,000 in added costs due to the bridge failure.

Lincoln’s Interim Finance Director, Steve Hubka, said the BNSF costs will be part of the discussion about recovery of the JPA’s costs due to the bridge failure.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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