Trestle back in operation
Winona Fire burned Rebel Flat bridge
Last updated 11/1/2023 at 4:30pm
WINONA — Trains are running over Rebel Flat Creek only two months after the Winona Fire destroyed the train trestle here.
On Friday, Oct. 20, state officials announced that the trestle has been replaced and the trains are running. The trestle is a vital link connecting wheat farmers and suppliers in Adams and Whitman Counties.
The 197-foot wooden trestle over the creek was destroyed Aug. 19 in the Winona Fire, which burned 2,525 acres as well as several buildings.
"The bridge has been replaced and freight train traffic is once again moving in Whitman County," said Janet Matkin, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation's Rail, Freight and Ports division.
Matkin said the new trestle is 210-feet long and constructed of steel and concrete.
"That will provide greater resiliency for the future," she said, noting railroad operator WATCO replaced the bridge.
The trestle is part of the Hooper branch of the Palouse and Coulee City Railway, a short line that provides services mostly to the agricultural community in Adams, Whitman Lincoln and Spokane Counties.
Matkin said the work was expedited after Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in the wake of the wildfires Aug. 17. The fires included the Winona Fire, the Oregon Road Fire near the town of Elk and the Gray Fire in the Moses Lake and Cheney area.
With the declaration, Transportation officials were able to expedite permitting and clear the way for construction to begin by Sept. 11.
Construction took place seven days a week for the next month, Matkin said, noting Kraemer North America provided the bridge building crew and WATCO managed track replacement.
The tracks were cleared for operations Oct. 12, Matkin said.
"With the tracks now open, shippers have ordered the delivery of empty train cars and freight trains that have been waiting for the bridge to open are now moving," she said.
The state, railroad and agriculture officials will host a grand opening celebration at the bridge in Winona at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 2.
WINONA – Here’s the timeline for the Rebel Flat Creek Trestle replacement:
• Aug. 19 – Winona fire burns trestle
• Sept. 7 – Construction agreement signed
• Sept. 11 – Contractors mobilized
• Sept. 14 – Construction begins
• Sept. 17 – Pile driving begins
• Sept. 28 – Pre-cast deck installation begins
• Oct. 5 – Track installation begins
• Oct. 12 – Rail embargo ends
• Oct. 13 – Track work completed