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Crews work on railroad sinkhole repair

Workers fix damage to the rail line along East College Avenue in College Township on Wednesday. According to Jeb Stotter, vice president and chief operating officer of the North Shore Railroad Company, the break is the result of a sinkhole.
Workers fix damage to the rail line along East College Avenue in College Township on Wednesday. According to Jeb Stotter, vice president and chief operating officer of the North Shore Railroad Company, the break is the result of a sinkhole. nmark@centredaily.com

It could almost look like something out of a movie.

Train tracks placidly trace their way next to the road until, eek, the metal breaks away and, gasp, there is an unexpected chasm!

What saves this from being part of the next summer blockbuster disaster film is that the gap between the two sections of rails is only about a few yards wide.

The pit beneath? It’s deeper than you’d want to fall, sure, but not deep enough to eat a train whole.

This stretch of rails lies on East College Avenue, across from the Nittany Mall. The stretch of tracks has not been used in months. For a train to hurtle into peril on these rails, a few dozen tanker cars that have been parked on the tracks between Decibel and Shiloh roads since November would have to be moved first.

According to Jeb Stotter, vice president and chief operating officer of the North Shore Railroad Co., the break is the result of a sinkhole.

“That actually just developed,” he said. “It seems to be a drainage issue.”

Workers were on the scene Wednesday beginning the repair process.

Stotter said that work on the sinkhole should be done by the end of June. Crews will be back next week to do concrete work. Other repairs include stone, pipe and ballast.

As to the tankers sitting nearby, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, despite numerous calls from curious passers-by.

“Largely that is not utilized for regular freight service,” Stotter said. “The capacity that you have where railcars are not being utilized, those are the sidings and tracks you fill up with cars.”

The tankers are being parked while they are not in use. At the moment, the cars are not in demand and are being stored until they are needed.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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