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December 2008

Part 1 : INTRO: Railroad Contractor Case Studies

Part 2 : PART 1: All Railroad Services Completes Complex 'Slip-Slide' Project for Long Island RailRoad

Part 3 : PART 2: L.A. Colo Comes Through in the Cold for Iowa, Chicago & Eastern

Part 4 : PART 3: Mass. Electric Makes the Grade at 52 Crossings for North Coast Railroad Authority

Part 5 : PART 4: RailWorks Track Systems Does it's Part to Keep Prairie State Energy Campus Project on Track

Rail News: MOW

PART 2: L.A. Colo Comes Through in the Cold for Iowa, Chicago & Eastern

In the cold and snowy Midwest, finding a railroad contractor to take on a last-minute rail installation job in winter can be a real challenge. Confronted with that very issue last December, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corp. (IC&E) turned to L.A. Colo L.L.C.

“We scrambled and were able to put a crew together pretty fast,” says Colo President Roy Dano. “We have more than 200 pieces of specialized equipment to handle tie and rail projects, and that helps us to respond quickly and put gangs and smaller crews together.”

Although the short timeframe and daunting weather posed a few challenges, Colo delivered on its project promise, demonstrating why Colo remains on the contractor call list for the 1,400-mile IC&E and other midwestern railroads, Dano says.

Consistency & Commitment

When the IC&E called Colo last year, the railroad needed a contractor that could lay nearly 20,000 lineal feet of continuous-welded rail (CWR) in two weeks. The railroad needed the work done on a stretch of track in east-suburban Kansas City, Mo., to meet what Dano terms as a contractual agreement with another railroad.

“We select contractors based on their safety, quality, consistency, flexibility and price. We look for a contractor who can get the job done safely and quickly so our operations are affected as little as possible,” says Steve Scharnweber, vice president for engineering and chief engineer for IC&E parent Cedar American Rail Holdings. “Colo has consistently met these criteria over the years.”

(Note: On Oct. 30, Canadian Pacific Railway took operational control of the IC&E and sister railroad Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp.)

Before long, Colo organized a 25-man crew and placed the equipment to handle the $200,000 job. The contractor’s commitment to its workers is a major reason why Colo was able to hire people on short notice, Dano believes.

“We take care of our people — we offer bonuses, we practice good safety and we house and feed them on the job,” he says.

The dedication of Colo’s crew was tested right out of the chute. Just one day into the IC&E job, the crew faced its first major obstacle: 9 inches of heavy snow that blanketed the tracks.The snow slowed but didn’t stop the work, Dano says. By the next day, Colo crews were using a rented snow blower to clear the tracks; they returned to the job a day later.


Despite the adverse weather and other job complexities — working on a double main with a multitude of switches, and coordination with other crews on the tracks — Colo completed the job in just 13 days.

“Colo is a good group of guys to work with, from their upper management right through to their labor pool,” says Scharnweber. “I feel safe in saying every one of our managers are happy when they are informed that Colo will be the contractor selected for a project on their territory.”

Just the words Dano and his Colo colleagues want to hear.

“We’re flexible and responsive to our customers,” he says. “We always try to be there for them.”

— By Robert J. Derocher

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