Railroad companies routinely dump ballast, or medium size stone, along railroad beds. It is packed between, below, and around the ties to help water drain and keep vegetation that might interfere with the track structure from growing. Most importantly, it holds the track in place as trains roll by. It is typically made of crushed stone, although ballast has sometimes consisted of other, less suitable materials. Unfortunately, train engineers dump ballast along the entire railroad grade and this crushed stone falls through the railroad ties of open deck bridges. These deposits are usually easily identifiable underneath and/or on each side of a railroad bridge and may be present in depths of 0-3 feet. The ballast should be removed to a depth consistent with the natural channel bottom and deposited off-site.
Railroad Ballast Removal Before and After
Fine sediment, such as silt, sand, and gravel can accumulate in and around culverts or other obstructions and increase vegetative growth. These impediments will be removed with shovels and rakes and the sediment should be scraped to a depth consistent with the natural channel bottom. Dredged sediment must be properly disposed off-site.