With the toss of his hard hat, Buddy Bryan closed the curtain on the nine-month Locomotive Relocation Project that ended with Engine 3066 at its new home, Okefenokee Technical College, around noon yesterday, July 2.
“We had a great turnout for the event,” stated Cindy Tanner, OTC public relations director, “especially considering the move took place during the July 4 week and classes were not in session. Spectators enjoyed a great view of the moving strategy used by Utilco Railway Services.”
Among those watching from the sidelines at various stages of the move were Senator Tyler Harper, Representative Jason Shaw, Mayor Clarence Billups, Progress Rail Services officials Christy Barnett (Senior Communications Specialist) and Rebeca Hernandez, OTC Foundation Chair Larry Paulk, OTC Foundation Trustee Tommy Nimmer, City Commissioner Marion Solomon-Gaines, numerous City officials, and numerous relocation team members, including Mike Hale and Billy Haynes of CSX and Billy Thompson of Progress Rail Services.
“We’re not used to working with an audience,” stated Van Gandy of Utilco. “We’re usually in a remote location at a derailment site, and sometimes working during night hours.”
Cranes and heavy equipment began arriving at the Carswell Avenue CSX track around 6 a.m. July 1. “We all anticipated the engine would be on college property by early afternoon,” continued Tanner, “but it actually didn’t touch OTC ground until around 6:30 p.m. that evening. Ask anyone who was involved with the project, and they’ll agree it was worth the wait and effort.”
Utilco workers came back to OTC early Tuesday morning to finish the job. Four and a half hours later, around 11:30 a.m., OTC had its newest training module – a 390,000 lb. locomotive, Engine 3066.
“So how many cranes does it take to move a locomotive?” Tanner jokingly asked Buddy Bryan, Utilco CEO and the man charged with moving Engine 3066. “Six 85-ton cranes,” a backhoe, and various other equipment,” Bryan said with a smile. The locomotive was lifted three times during the move, pulled by a truck and a backhoe, and pushed by a crane. Utilco workers were applauded by a sizable group when they maneuvered the second lift onto OTC property.
“The locomotive is fully operational,” stated Tanner, “after talking to the relocation team. The decision was made to forgo driving it for liability purposes. Students will be able to ‘crank’ and troubleshoot it once they have been trained.”
“This has been an ongoing two year process that required a corporate, foundation, and government partnership in order to advance Okefenokee Technical College’s mission and educational priorities and generate economic growth,” stated OTC President Dr. Glenn Deibert.”
According to Dr. Deibert, OTC will implement a locally-developed rail industry program that allows students to attain a variety of employment skills for jobs needed by local rail industry employers. The curriculum has been developed in three distinct career tracks: Locomotive Electrical Systems, Locomotive Mechanical Systems, and Welding/Locomotive Car Repair, allowing graduates to earn Technical Certificates of Credit, Diplomas and an Associate of Applied Science Degree.
Deibert noted that OTC submitted a grant proposal July 1, 2013, to the U.S. Department of Labor for the Employment & Training Administration Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program. OTC partnered with North Georgia Technical College and Altamaha Technical College for the grant, naming the partnership the Georgia Engineering Alliance (GEA). If approved for the grant, OTC specifically could be awarded up to $3,601,442, with a large portion of the grant designated for rail programs. The grant proposal and pending rail programs were contingent upon appropriate training modules or equipment.
“The locomotive is a great addition to the landscape and to OTC,” said Jason Rubenbauer, OTC continuing education director. “It looks like it belongs here,” stated Thomas Wesley, OTC electronics instructor after rail workers centered it on the rail track. Others on hand to witness the last leg of the trip were Billy Thompson, Progress Rail Services; Dr. Deibert; Erica Chancey, OTC; Sue Moore, OTC; and Barry Dees.
Once again, OTC officials would like to thank everyone involved for their contributions and support. Partners for the project included Progress Rail Services, CSX Transportation, Utilco Railroad Services, the OTC Foundation, Waycross City officials, Mediastream, Georgia Power Company, and AT&T.
For additional information about rail programs at OTC, contact Thomas Wesley at email@example.com. For information about customized training for current employees, contact Andy Brannen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos and additional information can be found on the OTC Web site and Facebook page.