Industrial development can bring to mind haphazard mazes of factories or warehouses, or storage facilities interspersed with snaking railroad tracks.
The placement of those tracks is anything but haphazard and Dennis Cox, a Senior Consultant in Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.’s Greenville office, has decades of experience getting them all in the right place.
While it might seem the usage of rails is falling by the wayside as technology and time march on, that cannot be farther from the truth.
“North Carolina has the most active, industrial track of any state. Only Alaska has more mileage of active rail. There is rail work all over the place and is often a part of the site design in projects,“ Dennis adds.
Rail design requires laser focus during the design process. “You have to go by the rules — maximum slopes, maximum degree of curves, the angle and degree of the switches. You have to make it work using those rules. You can’t fudge rail,” Dennis says.
These industrial site plans must meet the rail requirements for permitting and meet the requirements as outlined by the service railroad. “You have to develop the whole site around it when rail is involved and meet the criteria from the get go.”
“I love the industrial work. I learn something new every single time. The subdivisions get old after a while,” he adds with a smile. “It’s gratifying to see these rail designs in my head and then see them come to full-scale fruition.”
He’s worked on a number of large-scale rail design projects over the years. Dennis outlines a few of the most memorable ones.
- “One of my largest railyards is in Columbia, South Carolina. The design added about 7 miles of track storage and 18 switches. As with all rail projects, all rail was detailed and transmitted for construction using plan and profile sheets, utilizing an extensive line stationing system to assure the contractor had complete horizontal and vertical control during construction.”
- “At a cement plant in Alabama, I was responsible for designing an extensive railroad storage yard and loading station, while maintaining rail through-traffic to the adjoining business. This railyard consisted of two rail sidings, two loading stations under massive storage silos, 16 switches, and a total length of 10+ miles.”
- “Another project I was involved with was a large manufacturing plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Along with the entire site design, a railyard and raw material unloading station was part of the project. There was 10+ miles of track and 28 switches installed on this project. Although this was not my total responsibility, I was heavily involved in the rail design and unloading station.”
- “I worked on a large rail project that was a rail loop at a plant in Toledo, Ohio. This project included approximately 3 miles of rail, numerous switches, and a coal unloading station. Also, we had to cross a creek twice with box culverts and custom designed headwalls.”
George Genero, P.E., a Vice President and Civil/Site Practice Lead in CEC’s Greenville office, is happy to have Dennis on the team. “He has a specialized skill set. Dennis can educate our clients, as well as ‘talk shop’ with the railroads. Having that expertise is a real asset to CEC.”
Dennis has a wide range of work experience, in addition to railroad design, including municipal government, military, commercial, multi-family residential, subdivision, light industrial, and heavy industrial.
CEC’s Greenville office was founded in March of 2016 with a desire to continue the company’s growth in the Carolinas and the southeastern United States. The Greenville team depicts and embodies CEC’s core principles of senior leadership, personal business relationships, and integrated services. Our growing team comprises professionals with a broad spectrum of expertise in air and facility compliance, civil engineering and site development, environmental engineering and sciences, stormwater management, subsurface utility engineering, survey, and wastewater engineering.