Most see a railway. We see a community in celebration.

After a six-month shutdown, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is back in business. The 26-mile National Park railroad in northeast Ohio suspended operations in October 2022 due to erosion from the neighboring Cuyahoga River.  

The shutdown had an impact on local and tourist traffic at Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), a top National Park in the country. The railroad is an economic engine that generates millions of dollars and many jobs for surrounding communities. It is the only non-profit historic and educational railroad running in a national park. 

CVNP called on Olsson in 2023 to find a solution and get the train back on track.  

Olsson’s civil and geotechnical engineers came up with a repair plan. We provided routine monitoring, site analysis, and geotechnical inspections. Our team determined the railroad could safely operate in the southern portion of the park through train relocation and construction of a new temporary station. Moving the train was crucial to complete full-scale embankment repairs from erosion.

This spring, we successfully oversaw a complex train and engine relocation that enabled the scenic railroad to run again for the first time in nearly six months. And the local community celebrated. 

When the train arrived at the new temporary station, it was met with community members, news stations, government officials, and a police escort.  

“Once the train was relocated, it was a big deal to the local communities that rely on tourist traffic to support the towns near the train stations,” said senior engineer Tim Jensen.

“Hearing the impact it had on the community was very rewarding and made me proud to be part of the project.” 

Now, full-service trains transport passengers and support special events in the southern portion of the park. With continued monitoring, equipment-only trains operate in the northern portion of the park to support repairs and upkeep.

Enthusiasm about the scenic railroad was evident throughout the project, said Olsson geotechnical engineer, Steve Jensen. He worked with park officials on-site and monitored conditions to safely relocate the train.

“You could feel the excitement within the community and the National Park about what this train means and how grateful they were to help keep the scenic railroad in service,” said Steve, who attended the initial celebration. 

The National Park Service reported an estimated 2.9 million visits to CVNP in 2022 that brought $56 million of spending to local communities and supported 778 local jobs. 

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has been prone to erosion challenges and shutdowns since the tracks were built in 1880. CVNP recently received $14 million through the Great American Outdoors Act to maintain the railroad tracks and riverbank stabilization.  

With the tracks back open, passengers get to enjoy many more scenic railroad rides. Now, that’s cause for celebration. 

Ryan Kosola
Sector Leader
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