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Armstrong Coal built a new coal wash plant and tipple to ship coal from several mines near McHenry, Kentucky.  Armstrong had secured many contracts throughout the south eastern United States guarantying dates and volume of coal delivery.  They needed a railroad spur to connect the tipple to a main line operated by Paducah and Louisville (P&L) Railroad.


DDS ENGINEERING, PLLC (DDS) was contracted to survey the route of the proposed railroad and generate plans and specifications for construction of the railroad.  Our plans had to be completed and approved in time for the contractor to build the railroad and have P&L accept the spur.  The 3.5 miles of rail needed also had a long lead time.  So, our deadline for design completion was critical.  DDS used personnel from the Bowling Green and Hopkinsville offices to survey and design the new rail spur to meet this critical deadline.


The alignment of the track was extremely difficult due to P&L design requirements, the right of way of former road crossing locations, and the terrain.  The proposed route had to cross a city street at the same location as a previous track had crossed.  The former road crossing was very close to the mainline.  This limited the geometric alignment of the new spur intersecting with the mainline.  After looking at a host of options, P&L agreed the only workable alignment would mandate the new switch to be installed in a curve on the mainline with a custom made switch.  The new spur crossed a state highway at grade.  Apparently, a railroad does not cross a state highway very often.  The Transportation Cabinet did not have an obvious procedure to grant a permit for an at-grade crossing, but DDS and Cabinet officials eventually found a way for the permit to be approved.  The spur also crossed a large, shallow swale between the existing city street crossing and the mainline.  The remainder of the route traverses through a reclaimed strip mine and around a closed landfill.  DDS maintained constant contact with P&L personnel during the design process.  The plans were completed and quickly approved by P&L.  The track construction was completed by the contractor and accepted by P&L in time for Armstrong to meet their contractual delivery dates.

Project Location

McHenry, Kentucky

Client

Armstrong Energy

Dates

2007

Project Type

Railway Design

Departments Involved

Surveying,

Civil Engineering

Rural/Urban

Rural

Type of Improvement

New Development

Project Manager(s)

Jason Blakeman, PE, PLS

Principal-in-Charge

Dennis D. Smith, PE, PLS

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Armstrong Energy