VRS: Barre Boulders Bound For USACoE Lake Erie Projects

Resumes Shipments of Massive Granite Blocks Specified for Multiple Great Lakes Water Barrier Projects.

20 April, Barre VT – Granite hauling will resume from the Rock of Ages quarry site on 20.April, continuing fulfillment for US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo South breakwater and Athol Springs shoreline rebuilding projects on Lake Erie. The order is being shipped by NorthEast Materials Group (NEMG), of Montpelier VT. Last year NEMG supplied granite for a breakwater reconstruction in Oswego (NY) Harbor on Lake Ontario, completed last Fall.

The Buffalo South and Athol Springs project plans call for a combined ~800 carloads of granite weighing 11,900 tons of blocks weighing seven to 19 tons, each {northeastmg.com}. Most of the rock was delivered in September and October, before winter set in. Just under 300 cars remain for 2020 delivery, which is resuming next week. VRS will be operate 5-day/week to meet the project needs. “[NEMG] will be shipping … at a rate of 35-45 cars per week, finishing in late May,” said NEMG General Manager Eric Morton {conversation /}

Rock and roll

NEMG uses Vermont Rail System to begin the haul and the stone then moves from the Graniteville loadout to Montpelier Jct. This haul uses one of the steepest railroad grades in the eastern US. While little grade change occurs between Barre and Montpelier Jct., the drop between Barre and Graniteville is a “Severe Grade,” as steep as 8% between M8.74 to M9.59, and 6% between M9.59 to M10.64. The move requires short cuts of five or fewer cars. The NEMG loadout is located at mile M11.1,at the NECR interchange. NECR hauls the stone south to Palmer MA, interchanging with CSXT, who takes the cars west to Buffalo for final spotting and offloading. Ryba Marine is the contractor on both projects, and receives the granite shipments.

Barre VT

Five-car string is max load to head down the steep decline from the NEMG/Rock of Ages loadout to Barre (see map, above). {Kevin Burkholder}

How to protect your granite breakwater

Rock of Ages primarily quarries architectural and sculpting granite for use on buildings and as memorials. Up to 85% of the granite blocks quarried are unusable for those purposes. NEMG breaks up or crushes some of the low-grade blocks for use in construction and landscaping. Some blocks are kept whole, and is known as “armor stone. At up 40 tons per rock, these are well-suited for use in breakwater projects. {NorthEast Materials Group}

“The rock we are shipping now is a combination of blasted shot rock and sawed waste blocks,” explained Morton {conversation /}.

Granite deliveries for the USACOE Oswego Harbor West Arrowhead on Lake Ontario at Oswego, NY were completed in Aug.2019. As NEMG was closing out that order, they began shipping granite for the Buffalo South and Athol Springs projects. USACOE and contractors opted to extend deliveries into the early winter, thanks to unusually warm weather extended operating season. Roughly 50 carloads of rock were delivered to the site during September and October.2019, before winter weather suspended the project.

Rocky outlook

“A lot of the USACE bids and contracts are being held up due to COVID-19,” said Morgan. “We do not currently have any tentative shipping dates for other projects yet,” despite several other major approved breakwater rebuilding projects on the Great Lakes. “We are hopeful that when things get back to a new normal it will be a busy season.”