RIPARIUS - The devastating washout this spring of Warren County's tourist railroad has been repaired, and county and railway officials said this week the southern stretches of the system will likely be reopened by Friday.
"The engineering consultant inspected it today, and certification of the repaired track is immanent," county Director of Parks Recreation and Railroad Paul Butler said Tuesday.
The good news is not merely that 26 miles of the track has now reopened in the Upper Hudson Railroad's span of 26 miles from Hadley Station to North Creek.
The additional news already cheered by county officials is that the repair was accomplished for less than $5,000 of taxpayers' money, rather than the $130,000 or so estimated just several months ago. That figure had raised pessimism to the point that some supervisors had turned sour on the railway that the county had worked to develop for nearly two decades.
While the higher estimates called for hiring outside contractors to rebuild more than 40 feet of extensive rail-bed washouts, county Department of Public Works employees performed much of the work at a substantial savings, County Public Works Superintendent William Lamy said.
Also, much of the material washed downstream was reclaimed and reused, and in-house engineering was used when possible.
Tuesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe hailed the news of the repair.
"This was great that our county workers were able to do this in-house and save taxpayers so much money," he said. "We need to do more projects like this with our own labor and expertise in the future, whenever we can."
Last week, employees of the private Upper Hudson Railroad firm worked with Warren County DPW employees laying gravel, tamping the rail-bed to solidify it, and aligning the rails.
Earlier, the county had replaced ties and re-graded the earth underneath the rail, which was washed away in late Spring about one mile south of Riparius when a beaver dam breached.
After the reconstruction this last week, the railway operator ran the engine back and forth to assure there was no sag or lean.
The reconstruction of the railway means the railroad can run intermittent train trips from North Creek down to Thousand Acres Ranch in Stony Creek as in the past, Upper Hudson Railroad operations manager Welz said this week.
In 2008, the firm's trains ran to Thousand Acres and back on Wednesdays. Welz also said the railway might also host a fall foliage run to Corinth in late September.
Ted Ackley of Warrensburg and Steve Ross of Hague, both county highway employees, accomplished much of the railway reconstruction work.
With other county employees helping occasionally, Ackley and Ross unplugged and replaced culverts, dug a new stream bed with an excavator and redirected the waterway, filled in a series of smaller washouts in addition to the main one, then rebuilt the rail bed which included trucking in countless truckloads of stone and spreading it.
Upper Hudson Railroad paid $7,500 towards the repairs as called for in their contract with the county, Welz said.
"Warren County has done very well with their resources," Welz said.