TEHACHAPI: Two-Tracking Updates

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TEHACHAPI: Two-Tracking Updates
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:26 PM

TEHACHAPI:  Two-Tracking Updates

Purpose of this Thread

Part I (of I-II)

The purpose of this thread is for railroaders and railfans alike that desire awareness of news developments about two-tracking Tehachapi Pass (west slope) and related matters to find that awareness short of actually being there.

In August 2012 the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) issued an excellent environmental impact report (EIR) on the two-tracking of Tehachapi Pass, and it gives much official insight on the project.  The 24.48 MB document (270 pages) can be downloaded for viewing, or saved to your computer.

LINK:  An Official Government Document (August 2012) on Two-Tracking Tehachapi Pass*

In the above document, pages 1-16 will be of special interest to the average railroader or railfan.

The environmental impact report shows the project encompasses a territory of 25.23 miles, mostly of single-track (Ilmon-Caliente was already two-tracked under Southern Pacific a couple of decades ago), BUT ONLY 8.34 MILES will actually see new two-tracking in the two-tracking project.

The EIR that references BNSF material gives the following technical data and sequence information:

FIRST:  Connect the Walong (M.P. 352.07) and Marcel (353.08) sidings -- 1.01 miles (2013-2014).  For those unfamiliar with Tehachapi Pass, the circular Walong main and siding is the famed Tehachapi Loop.  The Walong siding is only 4800 feet long and hardly practical for meets in today’s 8000-feet or more double-stack era.  When the Walong-Marcel track is bridged, it will be like a miracle for Dispatchers.  With two-tracks, though, unless modifications are planned, BOTH the north (west) end and south (east) end will have right handed switches, which certainly is untraditional for sure … and safety questionable on a steep grade.

SECOND:  An extension of the south end of the Cliff siding (M.P. 343.30-343.64) -- 0.34 miles (2015)

THIRD:  Connect the Rowen (M.P. 346.40) and Woodford (M.P. 348.15) sidings -- 1.55 miles (2015-2016)

FOURTH:  Connect Caliente (M.P. 335.29) and Bealville (M.P. 338.04) – 2.75 miles (2017-2018)

FIFTH:  Connect Bena (M.P. 327.85) and Ilmon (M.P. 327.85) – 2.69 miles (2019-2020)

So, the limited two-tracking project could encompass a lengthy, prolonged 7-8 years!

This forum contributor was on Tehachapi Pass Friday, December 7, 2012 (from the Cajon Pass area) and shares the following photos for those unfamiliar with the area:

The downtown park’s railroad water tower:  How about that black widow painted F-unit drawing above the word Tehachapi!


The town of Tehachapi is kind of quaint … but more and more cars are passing through it.


K.P. has eaten at Kelcy’s Restaurant many times over the decades …


… but not this trip!  The clock didn’t favor it, but did favor bringing a sack lunch that could be eaten on the fly …

As with the above photos, posts in this thread with photos will generally be limited to three or four 640 x 480 email sized ones each (at least posts from THIS contributor) because many more images and image sizes bigger than that tend to severely bog down thread loading.

Tehachapi Pass for all practical purposes can be divided into three sections:  (1) the west slope, railroad north, the main focus of this thread; (2) the top of the mountain, the town of Tehachapi; and (3) the east slope, railroad south.

Continued in Part II

-------

* The document itself goes by the title:  “BNSF Railway/UPRR Mojave Subdivision Tehachapi Rail Improvement Project.”

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:30 PM

TEHACHAPI:  Two-Tracking Updates

Purpose of this Thread

Part II (of I-II)

The environmental impact report had several drawings in its Part II section that would be of interest to many railroaders and railfans.  K.P. took cropped photos of some of those very wide illustrations, and they are shown below.

Tunnel 10 before and after:



Tunnel 2 before and after:



Sometime soon, photo based posts will be forthcoming from the December 7, 2012 limited visit to Tehachapi Pass.  That visit documented some of the signaling upgrades that have and are currently taking place there, and that will be connected to the two-tracking.  A broad overview is hoped to be presented also, with material from the “Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates” and “Cajon Pass Triple-Tracking Updates” threads inserted for comparisons and thread viewers’ enlightenment.

Since this is an open forum, pertinent news contributions, photos, and discussion are welcome.

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Posted by Lake on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 3:11 PM

K.P, thanks for the updates.

Ken G Price   My N-Scale Layout

Digitrax Super Empire Builder Radio System. South Valley Texas Railroad. SVTRR

N-Scale out west. 1996-1998 or so! UP, SP, Missouri Pacific, C&NW.

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Posted by narig01 on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 3:40 PM

K.P. Again I thank you!

Merry Christmas and Thx IGN

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Posted by Modelcar on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:01 PM

K P:

Did not know Tehachapi Pass was being double tracked....Great images...What a surprise to me.  Makes one wonder why the tunnels were considered less expensive when originally completed.  Perhaps the limitations were earth moving equipment.

Has this project started....?

Quentin

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Posted by chutton01 on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:41 PM

Looking at those images - why not just make the cut wider and abandon the tunnels all togther?

No need to worry about height restrictions or tunnel maintainance (and since they have to maintain the new cut anyway...)

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Posted by John WR on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:02 PM

Something that E. H. Harriman never managed to accomplish despite his boast that he would build a first class rail line.  

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:18 PM

Modelcar
  ... snip ... Has this project started....?

Only the paperwork Hmm; the referenced EIR is one of the first steps. The EIR was funded by BNSF and the state gov't Trade Corridor Improvement Fund. Since the state is broker than broke, don't expect rapid progress ala the Sunset Route or Cajon Pass corridors.

Of course, a map of the key points mentioned is available for viewing here.

Subject to further confirmation, I suspect that the terrain 'cuts' planned for the second track will be less disruptive to ongoing operations and ultimately less expensive than daylighting the existing tunnels.  Anyone interested in geology and construction Yes will find the details in the EIR a good read.

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by ccltrains on Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:51 AM

KP-

Atleast the Tahachapi loop is a little closer than Arizona and New Mexico when you cronicaled  the Sunset route.  This will be an interesting one to follow for me.  We lived in Bakersfield from 1970-72 and explored the loop several times.  It will bring back good memories.  May I suggest the Wool Growers Cafe across the street from the SP depot in Bakersfield?  Great place we would often go for lunch.  Rode the last SP passenger train from Bakersfield to Tahachapi the day before Amtrak started.  The SP's usual consist was one coach.  This day they had 5-6 coaches (forget the exact number).

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Posted by timz on Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:27 PM

John WR
Something that E. H. Harriman never managed to accomplish despite his boast that he would build a first class rail line.

When did he boast that?

So single-track lines are never first class... probably lots of double-track lines are second class or worse... how about triple track? If he had made it three tracks all the way from Lathrop to LA would it have maybe qualified as first class? With lower-quadrant semaphores on signal bridges? Or would he need four tracks?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:48 PM

narig01

K.P. Again I thank you!

Merry Christmas and Thx IGN

Thanks, K.P.!

Looks like another Project for you to Chronicle!

Kinda surprised UP has not offered you a position as an Engineering Chronicler.... Whistling

Keep up the good work, and Thank You... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, December 20, 2012 1:53 PM

Will BNSF be funding these capacity improvements if UP and the State of CA don't contribute?

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:33 PM

Interesting questions ..   If BNSF funded the survey then they may be the ones with the need. If UP is happy with the way things are, or are spending their capital budget on the Sunset they may be have told BNSF to feel free to double-track their line.

In regards to day-lighting the tunnels, BNSF did this in Cajon without much disruption so it can be done, but would they pay to do it on a UP line?

If they did foot the bill for this, could we end up with a joint-line situation?

Another K.P. saga for us to follow!!!

Merry Christmas,

Robert

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Posted by John WR on Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:27 PM

Since you ask, he boasted that he upgraded all railroads he brought into to first class, well not every day, but certainly a couple of times a week.  In fact, when he did become President of the Southern Pacific it was in very good repair and well organized and it was making a profit.  

If you are interested my source is Richard Orsi.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, December 21, 2012 10:26 PM

rdamon

Interesting questions ..   If BNSF funded the survey then they may be the ones with the need. If UP is happy with the way things are, or are spending their capital budget on the Sunset they may be have told BNSF to feel free to double-track their line.

Exactly! Previously the BNSF paid to have most (all?) of the tunnels lowered to support double stackers. UP can't run any unless they reimburse BNSF for part of this cost. And they haven't yet AFAIK.

rdamon
In regards to day-lighting the tunnels, BNSF did this in Cajon without much disruption so it can be done, but would they pay to do it on a UP line?

IMO the situation is not the same. Cajon was already 2MT and trains could be diverted around some timed construction events. OTOH the Tehachapi bottlenecks are single track with worse construction access; traffic would have to stop for some events with more impact on BNSF.

rdamon
If they did foot the bill for this, could we end up with a joint-line situation?

I don't see how - BNSF doesn't own any part of this line or a parallel second track, nor do they have enough business to build their own track Surprise . I think that UP wants to hang onto it for some counter leverage on their important (Cajon and elsewhere) trackage rights over BNSF. 

As Arte Johnson used to say, 'Very Interesting ...... '

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by billio on Saturday, December 22, 2012 7:03 AM

KP,

Here I sat, fat, dumb and happy, and suddenly, with warning, a most unexpected and welcome Christmas present dropped into my lap in the form of this thread.  Wow!  And many thanks.

Two brief observations:  I've always wondered whether it would make sense to extend the siding at Walong through the underpass to connect with the next siding, a distance of something like a mile or two.  The "tunnel" under the tracks at Walong has to be a bottleneck, and lies at a point where train speeds are already restricted by grade and curvature.

Also, I'm guessing BNSF will be picking up the tab for this one, since the growth in traffic seems to be mostly theirs.  The operant payment model seems to be, "You grows it, then you pays for it."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from one of your most avid readers.

--billio

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Posted by garyla on Sunday, December 23, 2012 3:04 PM

Thanks for starting the new thread, K.P.!  It would seem like quite an accounting chore just to determine how UP and BNSF will allocate these new costs, since the latter already paid for the lowered floors in the exisitng tunnels, etc.

I took that link to see the government document.  At first, it seemed crazy that there had to be so much red tape for simply going to double track on the same route.  Then I remembered all the hassle that BNSF endured for wanting to put a second track through Abo Canyon, N.M.  Some of the complaints and proposed alternate plans in that case were absurd, but that didn't keep them from being thrown at BNSF.  By comparison, this dog-and-pony show looks easy.  Maybe the carriers will get off lighter on this project, or maybe the enviros just haven't gotten around to coming up with their grievances yet.

If I ever met a train I didn't like, I can't remember when it happened!
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 2:56 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “A” (of A-M)

The New Signaling Conversion over Tehachapi

Narration will be on a west (north) to east (south) basis, and put in an imaginary trip sequence context.  The intent was to start at Sandcut and head east, but the back road was closed and barricaded for an unknown reason.  Thus, we start at the first intermediate signal set railroad north of Caliente.




Above, the right signal is for the track that junctions into single-track at Caliente, hence, with the new color light signals, it only has a top two-bulb head for a yellow over dark, yellow over yellow, or red over dark.

Continued in Part B

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 3:04 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “B” (of A-L)

Caliente

The north southbound new color light signals at CP SP335 CALIENTE (M.P. 335.4):


A train could be heard coming way behind the camera, and the signals were lit.


Above, strangely, the left lower head doesn’t have a lit red.  This may be one of the rare times a diode light is burnt out!

A closer view:


Continued in Part C

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 3:09 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “C” (of A-L)

Caliente

The south northbound signal at CP SP335 CALIENTE:



Unlike most signals on Tehachapi’s North Slope, the LOWER head has three bulbs (with a green) instead of just two.


From CP SP331 ILMON (M.P. 330.6) (to the railroad north) to CP SP335 CALIENTE (M.P. 335.4), a distance of 4.8 miles, in past target signal days there was ONE intermediate set between those two CP’s.  Contacts have indicated there are now with color light signals TWO intermediate sets.  Hence, the three-bulb lower head in the just above signal photo.  The third photo in Part A, right signal, supports that two intermediate sets thought.

Continued in Part D

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 3:36 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “D” (of A-L)

A Word about Caliente

A phenomenon K.P. has never seen before trackside at Caliente is that all (most anyway) the local houses are strangely abandoned and empty!




K.P. has to wonder if the railroad’s great master plan is for the famous sharp, low speed curve at Caliente to be changed to a more swooping one!


Continued in Part E

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 3:45 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “E” (of A-L)

A Word about Track Designations

In years past, Southern Pacific, the original pass tenant, was an east-west railroad.  When Union Pacific took over, they eventually changed the east-west orientation of Tehachapi to a north-south one.  Thus, at Caliente, the tracks are labeled from west to east (NOT geographically).



On UP’s east-west Sunset Route two-tracking between El Paso, TX and Los Angeles, CA the line has the tracks numbered from north to south, such as at Casa Grande, AZ, in the M.P. 917 area.



In the just above photo, Main 2 is the then new left track.  Previously, that track was the Casa Grande siding that ended at the switch on the right.  Both photos were taken September 21, 2011.

Continued in Part F

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 3:53 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “F” (of A-L)

Caliente-Bealville

There used to be two intermediate target signals between Caliente and Bealville, but now there is only one color light.  Note the lower heads facing each direction.


Above, note the steep climbing from left to right and the mountainous terrain on the photo’s bottom.

Bealville

The north end of Bealville:




Continued in Part G

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 4:07 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “G” (of A-L)

Bealville

The south end of Bealville and the new color lights:



Bealville-Cliff

From the grade crossing at Bealville, the south northbound signal at Cliff can be seen.



Continued in Part H

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 4:23 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “H” (of A-L)

Marcel

We get back on the main highway and head east past the Loop, and stop at a vantage point off Broome Rd. where the north end signals of the Marcel siding can be seen.

The south northbound old and new signals in transition to color lights, but, only the siding’s signals are seen!



LINK:  Aerial of North End Northbound Signals of Marcel

In that link, note the signals across from each other, unlike the above photos.

K.P. talked to a trainman later, but he didn’t know that that signal was erected.  So, the above views must be of something that had just occurred!

The north end’s southbound signal (old and new):


Obviously, this interlocking will be done away with in the next few years, when the Walong (Tehachapi Loop) and Marcel sidings are combined.

Continued in Part I

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 4:29 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “I” (of A-L)

Downtown Tehachapi

We are now at the top of the hill, in the town of Tehachapi, at the double-crossover CP SP361 TEHACHAPI (M.P. 360.6).  A northbound view, looking into official “two-track” territory, each track signal bi-directionally.:


A southbound view, looking into official “double-track” territory, each track signaled in only one direction.


Because the right track is for trains going southbound AWAY from the camera, there is only a pot signal.  The northbound left track, on the other hand, is for trains coming TOWARDS the camera, and has a mast signal for easy visibility of trainmen.

This area is outside of the Caltrans EIR coverage.

Continued in Part J

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 4:46 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “J” (of A-L)

The South (East) Slope

From CP SP361 TEHACHAPI to CP SP370 CAMERON (M.P. 370.3) is “double-track.”  From the latter CP to Mojave at the south bottom of the hill is a combination of CTC (Main 1) and northbound ABS (Main 2).

Between those two points is M.P. 377.0, the well-known location (at least to area railfans) of a signal bridge.


Above, note the two mast signals lying on the ground.  They will replace the signal bridge in due time.  The right one is number plated 5271, i.e., it came from the M.P. 527 area somewhere …


The above two photos were taken June 27, 2011.

They previously were at the Colton, CA signal dept., as in the below photo.


Before that, on October 13, 2010, one was photographed at the "somewhere," on the Sunset Route in the M.P. 527 Etiwanda Ave. area, between Ontario and Fontana, CA.


Interesting tidbit!

Continued in Part K

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 4:56 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “K” (of A-L)

Signaling Conversion Sequence Variations

The Sunset Route is being two-tracked from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA, and at this time is about 70% complete.  The remaining single-track sections have for the most part old target signals, as in the below October 7, 2012 photo of CP SP841 PIEDRA in Arizona  along I-8.


When a portion of the line is two-tracked, usually that line goes directly from target signals to color lights, as in the below July 13, 2011 and May 18, 2012 Eloy, AZ photos.



Interestingly, at that Sunshine Ave. site in Eloy, AZ, in the final days before the second main was put in service and signal conversion cutover, BOTH signal systems were operative concurrently!  But, the new ones’ heads were turned aside.


Continued in Part L

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 24, 2012 5:06 AM

The December 7, 2012 Visit

Part “L” (of A-L)

Signaling Conversion Sequence Variations

An odd quirk developed on the Sunset Route’s Alhambra Sub between Los Angeles and Fontana, CA a couple of years ago.  That mostly single-track line had the signals revamped, and the old target signals and their electronics were replaced with a high tech color light system.

January 16, 2010:


October 10, 2010:


December 15, 2010:


Now that the conversion is finished in Ontario, all those NEW signals are going to have to come down as two-tracking that segment has begun, as the below December 5, 2012 photo shows (see photo bottom).


That type reverse sequencing appears to be taking place on Tehachapi too.  They are putting new color light signals in, then, will have to change many of them out sometime in the future with the two-tracking.  The railroad must have some rationale for doing such.

Finally, it is unclear when K.P. can get back to Tehachapi Pass, but documenting the key two-tracking areas hopefully can be done within the next two to three months.

------------

Replies to some questions are pending.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 6:57 PM

Replies …

Modelcar (12-19):

The second-track project has not started.  From what I can gather, it is only awaiting final California Transportation Commission approval.

I agree, Quentin, it probably was less expensive in bygone days (like over a century ago) to just build a tunnel rather than to do a big cut.  But, today, it is the other way around.

Even back in the early 1950’s when UP built a third-track over Sherman Hill between Cheyenne and Laramie, WY, big cuts were utilized instead of tunnels.*

And, in very recent times, BNSF when laying a third-track over Cajon Pass, daylighted two about 400-feet long tunnels.


UP, with its limited volume of traffic over Tehachapi, has had little incentive to daylight any tunnels there.

______

* Watch for a big reversal of operating biases from right handed running to left between Wyoming and Nebraska in the next couple of years.

chutton01 (12-19):

As in the memo to Modelcar above, UP (the owner of the line) has little incentive to daylight tunnels over Tehachapi, and I don’t think BNSF will spend any more money on the line (that it doesn’t own) than it has to. 

MikeF90 (12-19):

The State of California may be broker than broke, but voters did approve taxpayer funding, so I don’t think money is an issue per se.  But, what gets me is the duration length of the project – eight years!

ccltrains (12-20):

Ah, yes, this thread WILL be very personal for you since you used to live very near the pass, and you actually rode the last eastbound passenger train up the hill before Amtrak.

Thanks for the chow place tipoff.

samfp1943 (12-20):

Hey, “Engineering Chronicler” would be cool, and getting paid for it would be even cooler!  But, that will be the day … (Hehehe.)

MidlandMike (12-20):

As mentioned in the memo to MikeF90 above, I think the majority of the funding is already in place and voter approved, but the OK by the California Transportation Commission is less clear to me.

rdamon (12-20):

This is squarely a BNSF project, and I think UP could care less about it.

However, as owner of the line, I think UP loves the controlling interest factor.  Between Denver, CO and North Platte, NE there is a shortcut route, but UP doesn’t use it anymore, not even for through freights, and a shortline services customers.  But, BNSF has to use perhaps two miles of the line so its many north-south coal trains can go from point A to B.  A number of years ago when in that area, I saw UP maintainers servicing Automatic Block Signals for that short stretch on an otherwise dark line.  As I said, I think UP loves the controlling interest in the line …

billio (12-22):

You mentioned connecting Walong (the Loop) and the siding north of the “underpass,” i.e., Woodford.  I was expecting that, but the current project doesn’t include that section.

The problem may be the narrow, curving passage on the track between those sidings that would require very heavy and expensive rock cutting.

When BNSF triple-tracked about 16 miles of Cajon Pass circa 2008, very heavy rock cutting was necessary such as at Blue Cut …


… and that whole project average $5 million a mile!

So, on Tehachapi, BNSF may have calculated everything out and plotted to get the most bang for the buck!

For Everyone

K.P. found a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) website document of unclear date that lists construction starting in February 2013.

LINK:  The Document

How true or not that projected date will prove to be remains to be seen, but I suspect it is an old document.

Stay safe and drive defensively this holiday,

K.P.

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