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Norfolk Southern Railway yesterday began operating trains across the new Portageville Bridge in Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York.Under construction for the past two years, the new bridge spans the 235-foot-deep Genesee River gorge in the park. Known regionally as the Portage Bridge, the 945-foot-long steel arch structure will support economic growth and jobs across NS's southern tier in New York, according to a company press release.The $75-million single-track bridge was funded through a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration."The successful completion of this bridge is an excellent demonstration of how the public and private sectors can work together on freight transportation projects that generate significant public benefits and are vital to U.S. commerce," said NS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires. "It's also a testament to Norfolk Southern's robust bridge program and the ingenuity of engineers and railroaders."With the new bridge, NS can now transport rail cars over the Southern Tier Line loaded to the industry standard 286,000 pounds, a key benefit for customers, NS officials said.The new bridge replaces an iron truss bridge built in 1875 by the Erie Railroad. That structure was unable to support modern freight-rail needs — car weights had to be reduced 13,000 pounds below the standard, while train speed was restricted to 10 mph.Trains crossing the new bridge will operate at up to 30 mph.The new structure complements the park's beauty, while providing safer and more efficient freight-rail service, said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the press release."Through a combined effort with Norfolk Southern, government leaders and the public, we have built a modern arch bridge which will support economic growth in the region and continue our drive to strengthen and modernize transportation infrastructure across the state for generations to come," Cuomo said.To learn more about the Portageville Bridge and other major bridge replacement projects across North America, read this feature in Progressive Railroading's November issue.
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