Community & Business Leaders Meet to Discuss Route for Locomotive
City officials met with representatives from Okefenokee Technical College (OTC), Progress Rail Services, CSX Transportation, Utilco Railroad Services, and Georgia Power Company recently to discuss details of relocating a locomotive from Progress Rail in Patterson to the OTC Waycross campus.
According to Andy Brannen, OTC vice president for economic development, Progress Rail, at the request of plant manager Billy Thompson, offered, several months ago, to donate a locomotive, an EMD SD-40, six-axle, fully operational engine, to the OTC Foundation as training equipment for students enrolled in the OTC locomotive electrical/mechanical programs.
“This all got started when OTC electronics instructor Thomas Wesley approached me regarding suggestions for enhancing OTC locomotive programs,” stated Billy Thompson, as background information for those present. “We determined that graduates would benefit from a training aid or multiple training modules, which would improve their skill set and confidence on the job.”
Mike Hale, CSX mechanical terminal superintendent; Utilco CEO Buddy Bryan, and Thompson proposed a relocation strategy and route for city officials to consider. Bryan relayed details of the move to those in attendance, stating that he does not see any issues of concern. CSX, Progress Rail, and Utilco representatives discussed the details of the route involving CSX track. Then everyone’s attention turned to the .6 mile trip down Carswell Avenue.
According to Bryan, Billy Thompson “put a measuring tape” to the locomotive and determined it to be 16 feet high, 68 feet 10 inches long, and 10 feet 4 inches wide, weighing in at 390,000 lbs. When considering the panel rail, continued Bryan, the total height comes to 17 feet 6 inches.
As long as the move is not scheduled during the summer months, the road will not sustain damage, noted Bryan. In fact, the distribution of weight is such that a loaded concrete truck would have more weight per square inch than the locomotive.
Electric, cable, and telephone lines were discussed, and a plan was put into place to ensure ample space for safe passage. According to Bryan, Utilco will work with City officials to determine a time when there’s little traffic, since the move will probably take approximately eight hours. “Access to Carswell Avenue from some streets will be blocked for a short time, and the route will have to be cleared,” stated Bryan.
“On behalf of the City, we support OTC and are happy to partner with the college and area companies to facilitate this project, which will benefit students, grow the workforce, and promote Waycross and Ware County,” stated Mayor Clarence Billups.
Brannen, whose major objective is to facilitate economic growth through employee training programs, explained the impact the locomotive could have on Waycross through customized training programs. “The addition of this locomotive,” stated Brannen, “enables OTC to offer unique customized training solutions to rail industry partners throughout the region.”
Attendees also discussed the challenges once the locomotive reaches OTC. Site preparation and fencing were discussed, as well.
Dr. Deibert and Cindy Tanner thanked everyone for their work and support of the program. Tanner noted that Progress Rail had offered to give the locomotive to the Foundation last year, but the cost of having the gift relocated to campus was a financial challenge for both the College and the Foundation, a challenge that, until now, had prevented progress.
“Due to the generosity and support of CSX, Utilco, and others here today who are making substantial contributions to the project,” stated Tanner, “the Foundation should be able to accept Progress Rail’s unique gift, and everyone will benefit, especially students.”
According to Dr. Deibert, a follow-up meeting is scheduled for January, and the move is provisionally scheduled for February, after Progress Rail paints and services the EMD SD-40.
Representatives of several area rail companies, Georgia Power, and Okefenokee Technical College met with city officials recently at City Hall to discuss the logistics of moving a 390,000 pound locomotive from Progress Rail in Patterson to Okefenokee Tech in Waycross. Those attending the meeting included Mayor Clarence Billups (L to R, seated); Billy Haynes, CSX Roadmaster; Chad Boyett, OTC facilities director; Don Edwards, CSX mechanical superintendent; Cindy Tanner, OTC Foundation director; Dr. Glenn Deibert, OTC president; Andy Brannen, OTC vice president for economic development; Mike Hale, CSX mechanical terminal superintendent; Billy Thompson, Progress Rail plant manager; Jessica Deal, City engineer; Buddy Bryan, Utilco CEO; Deron King, City manager (L to R, standing); Jason Rubenbauer, OTC continuing education director; Van Grady, Utilco assistant derailment supervisor; Ben McQuaig, Georgia Power safety coordinator; and Gene Thomas, City engineering superintendent.