Sustainability in action:
Building Community Partnerships
Norfolk Southern routinely partners with local, state, and federal government officials on projects that benefit communities and the country. Employees such as Ed Sites and David Dize are the ones who make these partnerships work.
Imagine trying to build a four-lane highway extension over three railroad main lines and three yard tracks on a busy rail terminal. When Fort Wayne, Ind., officials approached Norfolk Southern with a plan to do just that at our terminal there, the railroad worked with the city to show what a true partnership is all about.
When the Maple Crest Road project was completed in 2012, the city and its contractor said Norfolk Southern employees “made this a team effort to get the project completed on time with minimal disruption to either side.” The success was due in no small part to David Dize, track supervisor, and Ed Sites, flagging foreman.
Dize was responsible for coordinating the construction activity around railroad operations during the two years of construction. Altogether, three highway bridges were built above the tracks. Each bridge had spans that crossed over three sections of track, and trains couldn’t run when they were being set.
“We had three bridges going up at once, and we worked really hard to avoid delaying the contractor and to keep them from delaying our trains,” Dize explained. To assist, Dize, with the help of NS’ Transportation Department, scheduled trains to allow longer windows of time for the bridge construction, particularly on weekends; he sometimes coordinated cutting trains in half to get the contractor’s work equipment across the lines.
The project’s complexity required close coordination between the railroad, the city, and the contractor. Sites acted as flagman for the contractor’s employees, helping ensure that the trains and construction activities were operating safely and on schedule. “Ed was with all the construction crews every day to make sure they followed our safety rules and roadway worker protection rules.”
Today, 10,000 vehicles a day cross the bridges over the railroad terminal, a big boost for safety because these cars previously had to drive over the lines.
“Communication was the key,” Dize said. “We had partnership meetings with all the players once every two weeks to talk about things that could have gone better and how to move forward. This project could have delayed all of us for years if everybody hadn’t worked together.”