CONO Route Shortened due to Flood Control

Flood control has again resulted in Amtrak’s City of New Orleans stopping short of its namesake city.

Nos. 58 and 59 are now originating and terminating in McComb, Mississippi, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened portions of the Bonnett Carre Spillway amid rising water in the Mississippi River.

Host railroad Canadian National won’t allow Amtrak to operate the City as far south as Hammond, Louisiana, and has also prohibited Nos. 58 and 59 from stopping in the Mississippi towns of Brookhaven and Hazelhurst.

In past years when the spillway was open, Amtrak passengers transferred to buses at either Hammond or Jackson, Mississippi.

CN in an emailed statement made to Trains magazine would not elaborate on why Nos. 58 and 59 are being prohibited from stopping in Hazlehurst or Brookhaven, both of which are normal stops for the train.

The statement primarily said that when the spillway is opened it does not allow Amtrak to operate with passengers across the spillway bridge for safety reasons.

CN said in the statement that it is planning to build a new bridge over the spillway that will alleviate the issue of Amtrak not being able to cross it when flood control measures are underway.

The current bridge is a wood trestle. Opening the Bonnett Carre Spillway is done to keep flood waters away from New Orleans levees.

The equipment used on Nos. 58 and 59 will continue from McComb to New Orleans empty so it can be serviced.

Although CN said work has begun on the new bridge, Trains quoted eye witness reports from Louisiana as saying that little apparent work had been done.

CN declined to provide Trains with a timeline for when the new bridge will be completed.

The spillway, which allows water to flow into Lake Ponchartrain, has been opened 15 times since it was completed in 1937 and four of those openings have occurred in the past three years including in 2019.

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One Response to “CONO Route Shortened due to Flood Control”

  1. Craig Nelsen Says:

    I rode #59 on Mar 15, and there is a new roadbed being built next to the current track in that area. I can send a picture if you want.

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