Council declares emergency for rail line repairs at electric plant

1 month ago Fremont Tribune

The Fremont City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 31, voted unanimously to declare an emergency at the Lon D. Wright Power Plant to speed up repairs to damaged steel beams at the railroad tracks where coal is delivered.

The city’s Department of Utilities manager, Jeff Shanahan, told the council the repairs were needed immediately, although he noted that there is enough coal stockpiled at the facility to get through the remainder of the winter.

“We realized the (steel beams) had some damage,” Shanahan said. “The beams were not suitable to carry the weight of the engine or the train cars. We want to get the project moving. Without this (repair), we cannot receive trains.”

The area of the plant in question in a segment of railroad track where trains carrying coal to the electrical generation plant can stop and unload their coal payload from a bottom-door in the rail cars. Since the damage to the section of railroad tracks, the coal for the plant has been piled up in a massive heap to the south of the plant.

On Thursday, Fremont Mayor Joey Spellerberg stressed the importance of the repairs in a telephone interview with the Tribune.

“We had a contractor out there, and in his inspections, he basically found our support beams for our railroad that accepts train cars were in disrepair,” Spellerberg said. “The reason for the emergency declaration is we need to be able to fix it as quickly as possible. We have plenty of coal right now to get through the rest of the winter, but this is not something we could wait on. I had a meeting with staff (Thursday) and they are working hard to get it fixed immediately.”

According to a staff report, the city’s Department of Utilities, “contracted with Southern Environmental to install new hoppers, feeders and belt upgrade equipment.”

“During the installation, the contractor notified LDW staff of the condition of the rail supporting beams. LDW Staff contacted HDR, the engineer of record, for the project and asked them to evaluate the condition and make a recommendation,” the staff report stated. “(An) HDR structural engineer informed staff that the support beams were beyond repair and need to be replaced. Until these beams are replaced or additional temporary shoring equipment is installed, LDW would not be able to receive any trains.

In that staff report, officials stated that the engineering, equipment purchase and installation will likely exceed the utility spending limits.

“The City of Fremont Mayor and the Utility General Manager have declared this an emergency per the City Code Section 2-508. This emergency will remain in place until all of the repairs on LDW Fuel Handling receiving equipment rail support beams are replaced,” staff stated in the report. “Upon completion of the project and receipt of all expenses a complete cost of the project will be presented to the Utilities and Infrastructure Board and City Council.”

There is no timeline yet for the repairs, but officials hope to get the beams fixed before the 2023-24 winter season.











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