INDOT’s Rail Programs Office and its partners made a surprising discovery that led to the extremely rare occurrence: INDOT reinstalling a railroad track after previously taking it out of service.
INDOT’s partnership with a county economic council, a short-line railroad, and a local business to install the new crossing will put all parties on the track to success.
On State Road 3 near Greensburg in Decatur County, an active railroad crossing once again crosses the highway. The spur track extends for about a mile east and three-fourths of a mile west. At the western terminus is animal feed manufacturer Lowe’s Pellets & Grain, which in years past used the spur track to ship and receive goods.
The company had not used rail service for years, and the crossing surface was in poor condition, creating a hazard for vehicles passing over the unused track. INDOT was planning to resurface SR 3. In 2019, INDOT requested that the track be declared as out of service, enabling INDOT to remove the track and replace it with asphalt pavement. This request led to meetings with railroad officials, Decatur County representatives, Lowe’s Pellets & Grain, a nearby agribusiness, and INDOT officials.
The track had been owned by Conrail, which was acquired by CSX Transportation in 1997. At that time, the 1¾-mile spur track was split into two sections on either side of SR 3.
Eventually, the two sections of track were deeded over to the short-line Central Railroad of Indiana. From those 2019 meetings, it was discovered that the SR 3 crossing was not included in the deed, meaning that Conrail still owned the right-of-way across the highway. Therefore, Lowe’s Pellets & Grain had to purchase the crossing limits from Conrail if they were interested in reopening the spur.
With the SR 3 resurfacing imminent, INDOT helped the situation by placing “Tracks Out of Service” signs at the location instead of deciding to abandon the crossing. This enabled the possibility of someday reinstalling the crossing.
Not long after the resurfacing project, INDOT met with the Decatur County Economic Development Corp. and local agribusinesses. The DC Economic Development Corp. said it wanted to develop the land beyond the western terminus, and Lowe’s Pellets & Grain said it needed the crossing again for business. Also, Next Generation, a leader in agricultural liquid storage terminals based in Greensburg, indicated that it would need the track extended. This led to the decision to reinstall the crossing.
INDOT hired a company that specializes in installing full-depth precast concrete panel crossings and pre-engineered track-support systems for the crossing reinstallation. The goal of the project is to have a structurally sound crossing for more than 20 years. On state roads with high traffic volumes, this type of crossing can last multiple cycles of different types of crossing surfaces. This reduces the need to detour traffic as often and provides a long-term solution.
The reinstalled crossing opened in December 2022.