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Memphis sinkhole plugged (maybe)

This arrived just today.

I have just received word from the Mayor’s assistant, Pete Aviotti, that the City of Memphis and the Canadian National RR have reached a verbal agreement on the settlement of who pays what on the repair of the Great Memphis Sinkhole.  While I don’t believe there was any legal obligation for the CN to pay for any portion of these repairs, they are agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount for “Good Will” as good corporate citizens of Memphis.  

The 8 foot diameter pipe needed to make the repairs has been on hand for a long time. A contractor has been selected to do the actual repairs to the broken culvert. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the repairs will commence and be completed quickly.

The City is now getting with Sprint Communications, based on the original contract between Sprint and Illinois Central RR back on the late 1980’s, to get their fiber optic cable out of the way so that repairs can commence.

It is still a shame that this procedure drug out for so long and precluded the repairs being done much more quickly. I do not understand the secrecy that has cloaked this issue from the beginning or the nature of the mysterious lost contract documents involved.

The Amtrak passengers were the ones that suffered the most, being bussed to the remote loading location in South Memphis to board their train. Amtrak also suffered dearly by having to spend approximately $4000 per day to cover the buses, drivers, portable lights at the loading site, and additional Amtrak staffing. Instead of spending this money to repair badly needed damaged-out of service passenger cars, Amtrak was burdened by paying for this busing exercise since April 22.

I wish to thank all of those who helped create the public outcry about the absurdity for the delay in effecting these repairs. Those who wrote letters, sent e-mails, made phone calls to the Commercial Appeal, and the players in Memphis’ City Government, truly helped greatly in getting this matter resolved. I particularly want to thank the members of the Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers for their hard work in this effort. Had it not been for these concerned citizens, the City might have let this matter drag on for who knows how long.



Bill Strong
VP Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers
Director, National Association of Railroad Passengers


Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail, Travel Woes

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July 2008