On Tuesday, May 13, motorists traveling through Mer Rouge must prepare to detour at the central railroad crossing, where Highway 2 meets Highway 165, in town. The Union Pacific railroad plans to replace railroad ties from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m.
According to Mer Rouge Police Department Chief of Police Mitch Stephens, detour signs will be placed to redirect motorists to additional crossings.
This closure follows a Sunday railroad tie replacement at the Gallion crossing north of Mer Rouge and a crossing closure at Grabault Road last week.
"The Union Pacific has completed its tie replacement work north of Mer Rouge toward Bonita and is now working south of the town," Elizabeth Hutchison, Communications Manager for the Union Pacific railroad said. "Currently, the project on the rail line is scheduled to result in the temporary closing of a crossing at LA-3051 on May 15. Crews also anticipate working at a crossing at LA-138 toward the month's end; however, the exact date has yet to be determined." According to Hutchison, these railroad tie updates are part of a larger plan to update Union Pacific infrastructure across the entire state. "Union Pacific is in the midst of an approximately $500 million investment in its infrastructure throughout Louisiana," said Hutchinson. "The investment will help the railroad operate more efficiently in Louisiana communities while supporting customer demand and future economic growth from agricultural exports, domestic crude oil and various manufacturers. Union Pacific invested nearly $462 million in Louisiana transportation infrastructure from 2009 to 2013."
Many of the old railroad ties will find reuse elsewhere. According to the Union Pacific Environmental Management webpage, the company reuses approximately 85 percent of the railroad ties it replaces annually in some manner.