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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 8:56 AM

This topic is for those interested in following the progress of the two-tracking of the Sunset Route between Los Angeles, CA and El Paso, TX.

On Monday, March 3, 2008 this forum contributor traversed the Sunset Route in California between Redlands (MP 546) and Niland (MP 668).

The line was basically devoid of construction activity, except in the vicinity of Thousand Palms.  The below photo was taken from the Ramon Road overpass adjacent Interstate 10 and near Rancho Mirage, and looks north-west (westbound).

Of interest is that the future second track will be to the south (left in the photo) of the present track (the signals have been erected), whereas the four miles of existing second track at Thousand Palms (a few miles away to the right) is to the north.  That will necessitate and alignment shift

The below photos show (1) where the November 2007 TRAINS cover was shot at, and (2) as the track continues around the curve, how the alignment strangely shifts.  The two tracks on the top (of the lowest photo) are original, and the left bottom track is the original single track line.  The track on the bottom right was added a few years ago.  The now gone Control Point (CP) at that location was called Fingal. 

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Posted by cacole on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:20 AM

Sorry, I don't have any photos, but construction right now in Arizona seems to be concentrated in the Willcox area and moving westward.  A new second line was recently completed across the Willcox Playa, a dry lake bed, between Willcox and Cochise, but the new grade crossings in downtown Willcox have not been iinstalled.

The City of Willcox, Arizona Department of Transportation, and Union Pacific have been haggling over the crossings in downtown Willcox, with the city and state wanting the railroad to build an overpass or underpass, and that seems to be holding up construction.  Main streets of Willcox run parallel to the railroad so close that there's no room for anything except grade crossings.

Once the UP finishes tracklaying in Willcox, they are expected to concerntrate on the area between Vail and Mescal where one line makes a long loop south, crossing over and under I-10.  Their plans are to eliminate this loop by running the east-bound track parallel to the former El Paso & Southwestern line that is their west-bound track.

Once that track is relocated, everything will be double-track as far as Tucson.  The UP is proposing to construct a new, 6-mile long automated hump yard in the vicinity of Red Rock, between Tucson and Picacho, to sort out Phoenix-bound traffic.  Then they'll be heading westward toward Gila Bend and Yuma.

 

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Posted by JSGreen on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:09 AM

Cool [8D]

looking forward to continuing coverage! Thanks for posting the pictures, also.  

...I may have a one track mind, but at least it's not Narrow (gauge) Wink.....
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Posted by desertdog on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 11:45 AM
 cacole wrote:

Sorry, I don't have any photos, but construction right now in Arizona seems to be concentrated in the Willcox area and moving westward.  A new second line was recently completed across the Willcox Playa, a dry lake bed, between Willcox and Cochise, but the new grade crossings in downtown Willcox have not been iinstalled.

The City of Willcox, Arizona Department of Transportation, and Union Pacific have been haggling over the crossings in downtown Willcox, with the city and state wanting the railroad to build an overpass or underpass, and that seems to be holding up construction.  Main streets of Willcox run parallel to the railroad so close that there's no room for anything except grade crossings.

Once the UP finishes tracklaying in Willcox, they are expected to concerntrate on the area between Vail and Mescal where one line makes a long loop south, crossing over and under I-10.  Their plans are to eliminate this loop by running the east-bound track parallel to the former El Paso & Southwestern line that is their west-bound track.

Once that track is relocated, everything will be double-track as far as Tucson.  The UP is proposing to construct a new, 6-mile long automated hump yard in the vicinity of Red Rock, between Tucson and Picacho, to sort out Phoenix-bound traffic.  Then they'll be heading westward toward Gila Bend and Yuma.

 

 

A lot of infrastructure work is in progress west of Tucson, in particular from Casa Grande to Maricopa and beyond.  There are construction staging areas at Bon and Maricopa.  New bridges and culverts are currently being installed on the present main and crews are excavating for bridges and culverts for the second main.

If you look carefully, you can also spot places where signal boxes, poles, radio towers, etc. have been relocated.

John Timm 

 

 

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Posted by chad thomas on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:05 PM
 K. P. Harrier wrote:

I used to sit under that overpass everyday for lunch when I worked out in Palm Desert. So will there be 2 tracks between Thousand Palms and the west end of DT at Indio?

Thanks for the pics and update.Thumbs Up [tup]Cool [8D]

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 7:19 AM
 chad thomas wrote:
 K. P. Harrier wrote:

I used to sit under that overpass everyday for lunch when I worked out in Palm Desert. So will there be 2 tracks between Thousand Palms and the west end of DT at Indio?

Thanks for the pics and update.Thumbs Up [tup]Cool [8D]

 

I got the impression that FROM the new Control Point in the above photo taken west of Thousand Palms TO the doubled track west of Indio was the area of construction concentration.  Last Monday a ribbon rail train was laying rail just west of Indio, but I was not certain if that was replacement rail for the present single track or rail for the coming second track.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, March 07, 2008 8:51 PM

Train wreck time!  West Colton Yard incident March 7, 2008, from Pepper Ave. overpass.

West Colton Yard mainline two tracking project, from Pepper Ave.,  (1) looking west at departure yard, (2) looking at bridge modifications for second main, and (3) looking east at bypass relocation, which apparently will be two-tracked and will be the new main.

 

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Posted by jeaton on Friday, March 07, 2008 9:05 PM
Don't you just hate it when the ends of a car decide to go in different directions?

"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo Possum "We have met the anemone... and he is Russ." Bucky Katt "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in physics

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Posted by kenneo on Saturday, March 08, 2008 10:28 AM

 jeaton wrote:
Don't you just hate it when the ends of a car decide to go in different directions?

Greetings, Jay.  That sort of thing has a tendency to happen when you stick those long cars in between those short(er) ones.  Espicially if you are pushing a heavy cut and they are on the heavy end.

Eric
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Posted by Wdlgln005 on Saturday, March 08, 2008 4:08 PM

 jeaton wrote:
Don't you just hate it when the ends of a car decide to go in different directions?

 

See, there's a prototype for everything on my model RR. but I can fix it with my 5 finger switcher. No reports to file. (It may be a little tough to check the wheels with a NMRA gague or file the turnout points.) 

Glenn Woodle
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 12:44 PM

The three photos below show the eastern limits of the 80-mile two-tracking project between Garnet and Niland, CA. during 2008.

The eastern switch of Niland is in the background.  The switch in the foreground is the east leg of the wye to Calexico and El Centro.

Taken from the same east end location as above, however, view is looking west to the west leg of the wye.

The view looking east at the west switches Niland.  What the exact alignment of the two tracking project will be here is unknown to this poster at this time.  The fantastic railfan train pacing Highway 111 is on the far right.

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, March 21, 2008 7:35 AM

The following four photos were taken on March 20, 2008 from Temple Ave., in Pomona, CA.

The Los Angeles Subdivision, the original Union Pacific ex-Los Angeles and Salt Lake line, and the ex-Southern Pacific Alhambra Subdivision, both between Los Angeles and Pomona, according to the November 2007 TRAINS, page 36 map, are now jointly considered part of the Sunset Route.

The original UP line now appears to be being TRIPLE-TRACKED.

Looking westbound:  Center track is the original single-track UP main, and now identified as Track #2; the track to the right was the old Spadra siding, now main Track #1.  The under construction track to the left is the new track in question.

View looking eastbound:

The original Southern Pacific main a few blocks away, looking westbound:

View looking eastbound.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, March 22, 2008 8:33 AM

Three of the four pictures were taken March 21, 2008 and all in the Palm Spring / Indio, CA area.

From the Ramon Road overpass, view is looking westbound.  The main track is on the right, the new track is on the SOUTH, or left.  Progress has been considerable since March 3 when the second photo depicted was taken.

This Ramon Road picture is looking the opposite way, eastbound, and the large sign on the left is gambling related.  The present main is on the right side now, the new track is on the NORTH, or left.  This will call for a shift in track alignment here.

This shot was taken from the Gene Autry Trail overpass, and looks eastbound.  The main is the right track, the left track is the Salvia siding.  The new future alignment appears to have already been graded.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, March 27, 2008 6:09 PM

Eastern outer limits of West Colton Yard, view looking west from the Rancho Ave. overpass in Colton, CA.  Note how the right-of-way has been expanded.  Apparent, the present Sunset main (out of picture on the left, and not to be confused with the switch in the view below) will be rerouted through this area, now called the bypass, and be two-tracked, as evidenced by this shot.

From the same location, view looks east at the crossing with the BNSF Transcon (left is eastbound to Chicago, right is westbound to Los Angeles).  Between this camera location and the Mt. Vernon Ave. overpass, barely noticeable in the background, is the section of track that a $148 million, 1.4 mile flyover is planned. (See TRAINS Newswire, February 11, 2008, "Groups object ..."

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Posted by MP57313 on Sunday, March 30, 2008 2:49 AM

 K. P. Harrier wrote:
The following four photos were taken on March 20, 2008 from Temple Ave., in Pomona, CA.

Hard to tell in the distance - are they now working on the realignment of the Sunset route through West Pomona?  The new grade has been there for some time, but I have not been out to see if track construction has started. 

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Posted by desertdog on Sunday, March 30, 2008 1:22 PM

I drove from Maricopa to Eloy, Arizona yesterday.  Ames Construction has just about finished rough grading for the second main between Maricopa and Casa Grande.  Bridge and culvert construction is well under way with a couple of bridges compete, except for rail and ties. 

East of Casa Grande, they are driving piles and setting rebar for culverts.  I did not see any signs of grading yet other than surveyor flags.

John Timm 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 11:41 AM
 MP57313 wrote:

 K. P. Harrier wrote:
The following four photos were taken on March 20, 2008 from Temple Ave., in Pomona, CA.

Hard to tell in the distance - are they now working on the realignment of the Sunset route through West Pomona?  The new grade has been there for some time, but I have not been out to see if track construction has started. 

 

MP57313:

There is no control point name "West Pomona" that I know of on either the old UP or ex-SP line (I am using old timetables), so I am uncertain of exactly where you inquired about.

I was out scouting around the Pomona area yesterday, however, and that new third track now appears connected on the EAST end to the old UP main just west of what I believe is CP Roselawn.

No WEST end connection could be located, nor even a third track, in the vicinity of Grand Ave. on the eastern side of City of Industry.

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 11:44 AM
 desertdog wrote:

I drove from Maricopa to Eloy, Arizona yesterday.  Ames Construction has just about finished rough grading for the second main between Maricopa and Casa Grande.  Bridge and culvert construction is well under way with a couple of bridges compete, except for rail and ties. 

East of Casa Grande, they are driving piles and setting rebar for culverts.  I did not see any signs of grading yet other than surveyor flags.

John Timm 

 

desertdog:

Thanks for the Arizona info.

Between Maricopa and Casa Grande, is the new track laid on the north or south side of the old main?

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Posted by desertdog on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 12:19 PM
 K. P. Harrier wrote:
 desertdog wrote:

I drove from Maricopa to Eloy, Arizona yesterday.  Ames Construction has just about finished rough grading for the second main between Maricopa and Casa Grande.  Bridge and culvert construction is well under way with a couple of bridges compete, except for rail and ties. 

East of Casa Grande, they are driving piles and setting rebar for culverts.  I did not see any signs of grading yet other than surveyor flags.

John Timm 

desertdog:

Thanks for the Arizona info.

Between Maricopa and Casa Grande, is the new track laid on the north or south side of the old main?

The second main will be on the north side of the existing track along this stretch and at least as far east as Toltec.  I drove a couple of miles west of Maricopa and it appears that the main will stay on the north side there, as well.  It means there will have to be a transition to connect up to the Maricopa and Casa Grande sidings which are on the south side.  This assumes that they will keep the sidings where they are presently and just connect them in which is the usual practice.

John Timm

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 3:56 PM

Thanks, John Timm.

It will be interesting to see how they handle those Arizona south-side sidings (Mariposa and Casa Grande) with the north-side second main.

As shown in the bottom photo of a March 22, 2008 post, which photo is here reproduced, the Salvia (CA) siding (around M.P.591) is on the north side (left) of the main, but grading (if it is grading) is on the south side (right).  Salvia is the first siding east of Garnet (around M.P. 587).  Garnet is where the present two-tracks from the west ends, and the site of the Palm Springs Amtrak stop.

Last year I followed the Sunset Route through Arizona and New Mexico.  What struck me was that at a few places on the few hundred miles of completed two-tracking, there was a third track, i.e., a controlled siding including cantilevered CTC signals.

Whether the Maricopa, Casa Grande (AZ), and/or the Salvia (CA) sidings are candidates for such a treatment, is unknown.

Several years ago, in the new two-tracking's infancy, Cabazon (CA, around M.P. 574) had basically two overlapping sidings, the eastern one on the south side, and the western one on the north side.  Part of the north side siding was ripped up, and new track was laid on the south side somewhere between a half of a mile to a mile west, where the alignment shifted on a curve.

Forty or fifty years ago, in San Timoteo Canyon on Beaumont Hill in southern California, around M.P. 557, there were both south side and north side sidings that ended in the same vicinity.  Back then, Southern Pacific made two-tracks out the two sidings.  That necessitated at that location a track-realignment.  Then, several years ago, Union Pacific put INTO that realignment the new Hinda double-crossovers.

So, unless one has the two-tracking blueprints in hand, the situation is almost unpredictable for the outsider.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what the railroad does.

K.P.

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Posted by MP57313 on Saturday, April 05, 2008 2:03 AM

I was out in the Pomona area in August 2007, when I rode the Metrolink mid-afternoon run (that runs on the Salt Lake route) from LA to Riverside and return.   I was able to get a pic of the graded right-of-way for the Sunset route relocation in the area.  This view faces west.

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 07, 2008 2:33 PM
 MP57313 wrote:

Concerning MP57313's Pomona, CA great photo above taken from a Metrolink commuter train, you may want to compare it with a mapquest.com aerial.  Because of copyright infringement laws, you will have to take the long way around to view it, and instructions for doing so are outlined as follows:

If you double click on the link below, one will bring up a mapquest.com aerial of the reroute, but you have to scroll down to it.

http://www.mapquest.com/mq/4-Z8rZ

The star on the map is at the intersection of Big Falls Drive and Happy Hollow Road in Diamond Bar, CA.  About an inch directionally northwest of the star, click the mouse, and the view will center on the reroute trackless grade.  On the left side of the screen, vertical rowed size buttons are displayed, with probably the fifth button lit.  Click on the fourth button down from the top, and a good view of the new grade will be displayed.  (Do not use the first three buttons, as old, out of date, non-applicable aerial photos will be shown.)  Take a good look, and enjoy ...

The unusual cement work on the bottom of MP57313's photo above is a bridge over the South San Jose Creek's route.  That bridge and creek are easily identified in the upper right of the mapquest.com aerial view.

The track on the aerial upper left is the ex-SP "Sunset Route" trackage that will be eliminated.  The track route on the right is UP's old Los Angeles and Salt Lake Route.

If you check a Thomas Guide, or other map that shows community boarders, the reroute will appear to be at the very western limits of the community of Pomona, CA.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 7:07 PM

FIRST of Two Posts:

All photos herein were taken April 13-14, 2008 ...

Arizona:  Yuma to Maricopa

Generally, substantial activity begins around MP 914 in the east and continues west to almost Maricopa.

Near M.P. 914, looking east

Looking west

Drainage construction at Bon

Bridge and culvert staging area at Bon

Arizona:  Maricopa to Shawmut

This is the real surprise area, as it was NOT listed as part of the 2008 construction in TRAINS (November, 2007).  It previously was scheduled for 2009.

Grading at Ralston Road (around M.P. 893), looking east

Looking west

Rearranging present old signals temporarily to make room for laying second track

Looking east from Rio Bravo Road

Look west

This is an interesting roadway auto traffic sign for a railfan to stumble across while documenting the two-tracking.

Looking east from 83rd Street   

Looking west

Work apparently is progressing west to Estrella (in the MP 874 area)

However, additional work seems to be going on in the ‘odd' Shawmut siding area, near MP 869.

Shawmut siding is an unusual siding with very sharp curves, and deviates away from the main itself big time.  Will the two-tracking project correct this?

A mapquest.com aerial view of Shawmut is at the below link. 

http://www.mapquest.com/mq/1-R8US92Upp1mr

After bringing up the view, adjust the size buttons on the left to about 5, move the mouse pointer halfway from the center star to the top right corner, and click.  The view will center nicely.  If you adjust size to position 4, you will see a train in the siding!

 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 7:26 PM
 K. P. Harrier wrote:
This is an interesting roadway auto traffic sign for a railfan to stumble across while documenting the two-tracking.

Now there's an interesting idea for an able-bodied retiree or group of people with time on their hands:  adopt a section of highway along a busy railroad track.  I have to admit that I don't know what goes into this (probably varies from state to state, city to city, etc.), but it might be worth looking into.  You might be able to snatch photos from otherwise improbable stretches of Interstate.

Carl

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Posted by Railway Man on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 8:37 PM

K.P.:

Shawmut is a previous main track location.  A line revision at a later date that reduced curvature turned the previous main track into a siding.  This is not uncommon; the giveway is that the pole line follows the siding, not the main track.

The track maintenance equipment you photographed at Shawmut is a curve steel gang replacing rail in the Shawmut siding.

RWM 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, April 17, 2008 12:45 PM

SECOND of Two Posts:

All photos herein were taken April 13-14, 2008 ...

Arizona:  Dome to Yuma

There is not much activity in this section.  However ...

Signals are apparently being modified.  Note that temporary lower signal units being added at the west end of Kinter. 

Between Kinter and Blaisdell, rugged terrain is encountered that will require major cuts and fills

Looking eastbound from WITHIN the Blaisdell Control Point:  Note the absolute signal in the distance on the left.

Looking the other way, westbound:  The turnout at present end of the short, four or five mile section of two-tracks is being slowly converted to a full crossover.

The days appear numbered for the present Control Point Fortuna, the present western end of the four or fives miles of two-tracks from Blaisdell.

Looking west

California:  Indio to Garnet

Presently, grading has spread out from Thousand Palms both westward to Garnet and eastward to Indio.  The turnout pictured here is the beginning of the present nine-mile or so section of ancient double-track (NOT two-tracks) from Indio to Thermal.  Photo was taken from the Monroe Street overpass and looks west.  New grading is on the SOUTH side.

Looking east from the Washington Street overpass.  Grading here is on the NORTH side.

From Ramon Road, view is looking east.  The NEW track is on the foreground left.  The jog in the left track in the background is the former end of the four-mile section of two-tracks called Thousand Palms.  The old cantilever signal is now out of service.

BEHIND THE CAMERA, the new track is on the north side of the old main.  IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, the new track was laid on the south side, on the left.  As seen on the bottom of this photograph, the tracks change alignment as they go under the overpass.

Telephoto of same above location:  The new Control Point is now operational, and both tracks in the foreground are active.  The far background left track is NOT operational, but is slowly being extended westward out of camera view.

Un-ballasted newly laid track in Cathedral City

The Date Palm Drive roadway bridge widening in Cathedral City is coincidental.  Un-ballasted new track is on the south side (right).

View is looking west from the Gene Autry Trail overpass.  The Salvia siding is on the right.

Photo was taken from the Indian Avenue overpass in Palm Springs, and looks eastbound down onto the railroad timetable location Garnet.  Main is on left, the "South" siding is on the right.  The new main will likely be on the far left. 

View looks west.  From left to right, (1) the "South" Garnet siding, (2) Track 2, (3) Track 1 (former "North" siding), and (4) a Union Pacific spur.  This Garnet location is the present end of two-tracks from the west (background).  Note old absolute signals in lower left.

The Amtrak Station, Palm Springs. 

Red Rock, AZ

According to the November, 2007 issue of TRAINS, Union Pacific plans on building a new hump yard at Red Rock.

Here is what the place looks like now (April, 2008) ...

A water tower! (There are a few left in America, believe it or not)

Looking railroad west from Red Rock freeway exit

Railroad east

The terrain

From the west end Red Rock siding, looking west

Looking east from west end

View of east end Red Rock siding, looking railroad east

 

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Posted by desertdog on Thursday, April 17, 2008 8:44 PM

K.P.


An excellent photo documentary. 

I just came back from Tucson this evening.  From Red Rock west to Casa Grande, crews are installing new culverts to replace the aging and mostly wooden bridges that date well back into the twentieth century.  It was hard to tell if they are going to add culverts for the second track at this time or not.  West of C.G., as you point out, the culverts for the second track are well under way.

I, too, have noticed the extra signal heads.  It makes sense that they would take the place of signals that are going to have to be removed.  There are at least a couple east of Naviska and a separate signal and mast have sat unused for at least three years at the east end of the Casa Grande siding. 

At Maricopa, I tried to get the attention of the Amtrak agent to see if he knew where they were going to put the second track in front of the depot but he was too busy trimming the palo verde trees.  The way the platforms are poured, the track would stay on the side closest to the depot (north side).  How that affects the passing siding that starts just west of there remains to be seen.  Hopefully, the old SP water tower will remain.

John Timm 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, April 19, 2008 7:14 AM

Railway Man:

Thank you for the Shawmut location info of April 16.

A few days ago, as I drove past the track visible from the highway at Shawmut, I was incredibly struck by the super sharp curvatures there.  But, your post input made it all make sense.  What I saw in reality was only the siding.

In light of your above post (about a "curve steel gang" active in the Shawmut siding), I wonder if the present main through Shawmut will be two-tracked, and the 'away from the main' siding remain so wide loads that meet at Shawmut can easily get around each other.

K.P.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, April 19, 2008 7:33 AM

John Timm:

Thanks for the above compliment.

From my travel observations a few days ago, bridges and culvers seem to be being completely replaced with two-track width assemblages that meet modern UP standards.

Last year, I drove the Tucumcari line from El Paso to near Kansas City.  Virtually all the bridges, short and long, had no protective handrails, and I don't believe any room to walk.  I don't have the foggiest idea how crewmembers there walk a train that is in emergency.  On the Sunset Route I traversed a few days ago, there were such bridges here and there, but it is not clear in my mind how rare or widespread they are.

When the UP was two-tracking the east side of Beaumont Hill in California several years ago, the second main often went right where sidings were.  However, with the present new track construction, UP seems to be laying the new second track on whatever side is advantageous WITHOUT consideration to present sidings.

K.P.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:30 AM

West Colton Yard, CA area progress:

From the Sierra Avenue overpass in Fontana, looking west.  Track on left is switching lead, main is on right.  Track on lower far right will be the new second main.  It is unknown how the second main will affect the billboards in the background

Looking east, toward Receiving Yard.  Un-ballasted track on far left will be the new second main

Concrete blocks in this photograph's center are believed to be for a new two-track cantilevered signal bridge

From Cedar Avenue overpass in Bloomington, look west.  Track on right is present main.  New second main under construction out of view will be on far right.  Because of insufficient overpass side clearance, both new and old mains will alignment shift to the left (south).  Such necessitated as a first step the straight track removal where the yellow truck is located

Looking east.  Turnouts are laid out in preparation for alignment readjustments

This truck loaded with pre-stressed concrete ties is slowly moving BACKWARDS a mile to where the second main is progressing eastward.  In some ways, it explains the snail-pace of the West Colton Yard revisions and Sunset Route two-tracking!

 

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