Flooding in southwest Wisconsin is worse than originally thought for the "Iron Interstate."

More than 12 inches of rain in Vernon County, near LaCrosse, caused a mudslide, creating, according to State Railroad Commissioner Rodney Kreunen , one of the most monumental railroad blockages they've seen in decades.

"As the Burlington is trying to recover and get this going again, they're finding that the damage is far worse than they thought — several 20-foot holes. At the moment there are 80 dump trucks that have been hired that are moving back and forth to move out the mud and bring ballast in to stabilize things."

The Burlington Northern 's twin track main line runs along the Mississippi River and with up to 50 trains a day, it's the heaviest rail traffic in the state. Kreunen says the damage from the flooding has shut down the railroad to a heavy extent.

"For the railroad, this is close to a major catastrophe. This would be like shutting off an interstate highway and you don't have any on ramps or off ramps."

For now, Kreunen says rail traffic is shifted to other lines in the state … at a cost of a million dollars a day in diversionary traffic.

"By the time this is corrected, this is, at this time, is at least an 8-to-10 million dollar problem. That will be borne completely by the railroads."

Kreunen (pronounce) says they had hoped to have one line open on Monday evening, running at just 30 miles per hour, but that didn't happen because, he says, the magnitude of the railroad disaster is much worse than they had thought.

NOTE: They were hoping to have one line open by late Tuesday night.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:35 MP3)

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