Union Pacific is in the midst of carrying out $6 million worth of rail line improvements between South Roxana and Hillsboro as part of its efforts to reduce derailments and other incidents on its system.
Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific, said the work is along 44 miles of track, but rail traffic continues to move along the line.
“We work around operations,” Davis said. “On some lines, we might have curfews where trains won’t operate for six hours, but after six hours, we bring the trains on through.”
During the work, Union Pacific plans to replace 36,000 railroad ties, install 21,700 tons of rock ballast and replace more than a quarter of a mile of rail in various curves. Crews also plan to repair the surfaces at 58 road crossings.
Workers will place concrete pads between tracks where they cross with roads and repave asphalt leading up to either side of the rails in order to smooth out the surface for automobile traffic, Davis said.
When road crossings are repaired, Union Pacific works with local road authorities as traffic is usually detoured for about a day.
Davis said the work is part on the railroad’s annual capital investment program where it has about five years worth of work planned at a time.
The maintenance work being carried out helps reduce the amount of derailments, Davis said.
“Anytime you catch a problem or keep the track structure in good condition, it reduces track related incidents,” he said.
He wasn’t aware of any recent track incidents on the line between South Roxana and Hillsboro.
From 2005 through 2014, Union Pacific spent more than $31 billion on railroad improvements, an investment that contributed to a 38 percent decrease in derailments over the last 10 years, the company said.
The railroad company added the work is privately funded.
Work between South Roxana and Hillsboro is expected to continue through the end of July.
Union Pacific’s capital investment program is based on track inspections by employees as well as electronic inspections, Davis said.
Union Pacific plans to invest $119 million in 2015 to help improve transportation infrastructure in Illinois, the railroad company said.
The planned work includes nearly $105 million to maintain railroad track, $5 million to enhance signal systems, and $9 million to maintain or replace bridges in the state, Union Pacific said.
“Union Pacific helps businesses connect with consumers, suppliers and markets across the nation and around the world,” said Donna Kush, Union Pacific vice president of Public Affairs, Northern Region. “In addition to helping move our customers’ goods safely and efficiently, our investments support communities by reducing traffic congestion, facilitating industrial development and promoting economic expansion.”