No. 4 tie - Indiana Rail Road announces major project

Friday, December 30, 2011
Indiana Rail Road Company President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hoback (left) chats with Solsberry area resident and railroad historian Larry Shute (center) and Jim Weimer, (right) who serves on the Hoosier Energy board and is president of the UDWI-REMC Board of Directors, at the August groundbreaking ceremony. (By Nick Schneider)

The Indiana Rail Road Company (IRRC) broke ground in August 2011 on a $6 million locomotive maintenance facility at Hiawatha Yard that will improve efficiency and environmental controls for the railroad as well as preparing for anticipated growth.

That announcement tied as the No. 4 story for 2011.

President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas G. Hoback and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Michael Cline turned the first shovels of dirt for the project that was already under way by general contractor Force Construction, Inc., of Columbus.

Hoback noted that it is nice to be able to grow with the community and stressed that many of the subcontractors on the project are Greene County-area firms Indiana Rail Road has used in the past.

The state-of-the-art Hiawatha Yard -- located near Jasonville -- supports more than 85 well-paying jobs including about 15 new hires in 2011.

That number is expected to increase as business continues to expand, according to Eric Powell, IRRC's public policy analyst.

The new facility will replace a cramped, century-old building designed in the steam locomotive era, and will feature up-to-date environmental systems.

"The $6 million in private capital we have allocated for this facility is one of the largest singular investments in our company's history, and it will greatly enhance operational efficiency while providing our mechanical team with a first-class working environment," Hoback said.

The locomotive maintenance facility will include a large parts warehouse and overhead cranes so IRRC's 20-person mechanical force can perform work ranging from routine maintenance to heavy overhauls. Up to four of the railroad's 4,300 horsepower heavy-haul locomotives can be serviced at once in a climate controlled environment.

Hoback acknowledged that the company's haul contract with the nearby Bear Run Mine was a major reason for the planned improvements.

Jasonville Mayor Roy Terrell said he welcomed IRRC's expansion plans.

"I'm really pleased with everything you guys are doing down here. I think with your future plans it's good for the community, the county and everything," Terrell stated.