LETTER TO THE EDITOR
One reason to consider saving the Grenada Line is for the purposes of having a detour route in case something should happen to the parallel Yazoo Line.
Both of these lines are approximately 200 miles long, extend from Memphis to Jackson, and are roughly 30 miles apart. These two lines are a link in Canadian National’s (CN) route from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and this is the only north-south mainline that traverses the state of Mississippi.
Both the Yazoo and Grenada lines have traditionally been used by the former Illinois Central Railroad (IC) to handle through traffic as part of this corridor. However, beginning in the 1990s, the IC and later the CN downgraded the Grenada Line and eventually rerouted all through traffic to the Yazoo Line.
CN sold the Grenada Line in 2009 to a known railroad salvage company that has tried to abandon it since 2011.
In past years, when a derailment, flood, washout, or other severe weather caused one of these lines to become temporarily closed, traffic was simply rerouted to the other line and train traffic was still able to flow.
The most notable incident occurred in 1995 when a IC freight train derailed while going over the Coldwater River Bridge at Savage, Miss., on the Yazoo Line, causing the entire bridge to collapse. It took the IC two weeks to rebuild the bridge, and all trains that normally traveled on the Yazoo Line detoured on the Grenada Line.
The most recent accident that occurred was a derailment on the Yazoo Line in 2006. This derailment was cleaned up within 24 hours, but trains still detoured on the Grenada Line.
In 2011, the Mississippi River rose to historic levels and threatened to flood part of the Yazoo Line. In anticipation of a possible line closure, CN had its bridge and track inspectors look over the Grenada Line. CN’s bridge inspector was not able to inspect the Coldwater River Bridge on the Grenada Line due to the high water, and the inspector could not give his approval to detour trains over the Grenada Line. However, the Mississippi River flooding ended up not closing the Yazoo Line.
Historically, the Yazoo Line, like most major rail lines, has a small derailment -- like the one in 2006 -- every other year or so. Once a decade, the less frequent but major derailments -- like the one at Savage in 1995 -- occur. Should another large derailment or large natural disaster occur on the Yazoo Line, and the Grenada line is allowed to be abandoned, all north-south train traffic in Mississippi will come to a halt.
President, Grenada Area
Chamber of Commerce