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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Posted by cacole on Saturday, April 26, 2008 7:26 PM

As of Friday, 25 April 2008, a large construction staging area is being built on the southern edge of Picacho, in a field east of the track.  There were several gondolas of fill dirt sitting on a siding between Red Rock and Marana to the south.

I don't understand how the Union Pacific can be planning a 6-mile long automated hump yard at Red Rock as announced in Trains Magazine a few months ago, because the Central Arizona Project water canal from the Colorado River to Tucson runs parallel to the railroad in that area, and doesn't seem to be far enough away from the track for a yard to be squeezed in.  At one point, the canal and railroad seem to be only a few hundred feet apart.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, April 27, 2008 4:11 PM

cacole:

Thank you for your above very current ARIZONA input.

When passing through Red Rock April 14, I too contemplated with difficulty how a hump yard could be fit into the available space.

However, when visiting California's West Colton Yard facility Friday, April 25, I was stuck by the narrowness of the Receiving Yard.  With that, I concluded Red Rock could be built in a rather confining area.

The hump would be the widest aspect of the Red Rock Yard.  The community there does have some wide open areas.

A contributing factor, in my opinion, for the need of a new hump yard is how confining West Colton Yard has become.  If the below two photos are studied, one will note the West Colton Receiving Yard is hemmed in by Interstate 10 on the north, and businesses, such as a trucking property, on the south.

As far as that canal, mapquest.com shows the "Tucson Aqueduct" conflicting in only one place.  I don't know if the "Central Arizona Project" is the same thing or not.  But, as stated above, a narrow few hundred feet could be sufficient for parts of a yard at Red Rock.

You, cacole, as an Arizona resident, are in a better position than I am here in California to make an assessment of the situation at Red Rock.  But, I agree with you:  It is very difficult to mentally project a yard in that strangely confining area, in Arizona of all places, a land noted for very wide open spaces!

K. P.

 

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Posted by Awesome! on Monday, April 28, 2008 9:50 AM
Thanks for the update!Thumbs Up [tup]Thumbs Up [tup]
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 5:19 PM

The below link brings up a mapquest.com aerial view of the Sunset Route through Maricopa, AZ.  Size the view to Step 2 (on the display left).

John Timm in his enlightening April 14, 2008 post mentioned "The way the [Amtrak cement]platforms are poured."  The link below shows those platforms and obviously where the Sunset Route second track will be laid.

Also in the aerial, for old passenger train and trivia buffs, just north of the Amtrak station can be seen the 60 year old (this year) California Zephyr dome tail-car CB&Q "Silver Horizon" that is on permanent display in Maricopa.

http://www.mapquest.com/mq/2-xYz6ZsmRJK6MgvDt

(The technical data entry for mapquest.com is "N John Wayne Pkwy & S. R. 238" "Maricopa" "AZ" and set to Aerial.  But the above link should be sufficient.)

 

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Posted by MP57313 on Saturday, May 3, 2008 2:44 AM

Following up on the earlier post...on May 2 I was able to ride Metrolink out to Pomona on the Salt Lake route.  Here is an update of the Sunset relocation near west Pomona/Industry...there is now one unballasted track; see grab-shot pic

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Posted by desertdog on Friday, May 9, 2008 1:11 PM

 

It looks like the Maricopa, AZ Amtrak depot will be moving from the present site.  I wonder what this means for the track configuration. Also, I hope someone takes steps to preserve the CB&Q observation car next door, as well.  It is being vandalized and rusting badly in places. 

The Casa Grande depot will end up belonging to the City.  I believe they have plans to make it a museum.

John Timm

Railway Age, May 8, 2008:

"Union Pacific, trying to clear the way for double-tracking its main line across southern Arizona, has agreed to provide $35 million over the next 25 years to help build grade-separated road and rail crossings in growing Pinal County, local newspapers report.

The agreement, according to the railroad, county officials and mayors of Eloy, Maricopa and Casa Grande, will have Union Pacific pay major shares of the costs of designing of three or possibly four underpasses or overpasses. That represents a change of approach for UP, which previously tried to dampen suggestions that it pay for building grade-separated crossings. A UP official said in 2007 that underpasses and overpasses can cost $10 million to $30 million apiece.

'It's a progression. We were able to sit down' with the local officials to discuss their concerns, said Luis Heredia, a UP community affairs director.

The agreement calls for the local governments involved to identify which crossings will get bridges or underpasses and to support UP's double-tracking when the Arizona Corporation Commission considers UP's applications for changes to existing grade-crossings.

Pinal County is located in south-central Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson. The county has seen extensive population growth as well as increased traffic on local roadways in recent years, raising concerns about the railroad's track expansion project.

The agreement also calls for UP to take other steps, including donating a former depot in Casa Grande to the city and helping relocate the Amtrak passenger station in Maricopa."

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:22 AM

Pomona, CA

Compare MP57313's May 3 Pomona, CA area SOUTH SIDE photo view looking NORTHWEST from a Metrolink commuter train ...

 MP57313 wrote:

Following up on the earlier post...on May 2 I was able to ride Metrolink out to Pomona on the Salt Lake route.  Here is an update of the Sunset relocation near west Pomona/Industry...there is now one unballasted track; see grab-shot pic

... With the below NORTH SIDE photo that looks SOUTHEAST from Valley Blvd.  The ex-Southern Pacific line in the middle foreground is the track that will be eliminated.  The reverse S-curve is the new relocated line.  Union Pacific's old Los Angeles & Salt Lake line is in the top background, and is the line MP57313 took his photo from.  The new track and right-of-way is now fenced on both sides.

There has been some question about the railroad location called "West Pomona."  Union Pacific timetables do NOT list this location, but, according to sources, the ‘LA Area Timetable Map' DOES show it.  But this photo is proof that the control point place does exist.  This is part of the Sunset line that will be eliminated. (Click on photo to enlarge)

However, EAST of "West Pomona," some track will still be needed to serve present rail customers

Another customer to serve on photo far left

Even though a section of ex-SP "Sunset" line will be eliminated, oddly, NEW concrete ties have been staged for it

From Hamilton Avenue, looking east

Something is marked at Hamilton Avenue ...

From Hamilton Avenue, views look west.  Most Sunset Route trains gravitate over to or from Union Pacific's old Los Angeles & Salt Lake Route (on far left).  This switch-work was installed shortly after the Southern Pacific-Union Pacific merger of 1997.  With the reroute, it will be interesting to see if UP modifies the track here further

West Colton Yard

Bloomington, CA.  From the Cedar Avenue overpass, view looks west.  The laying of the second track FROM the west has reached where the alignment will shift to the left to go beneath the overpass.

Looking east, new absolute signals have been erected. 

At east end of yard, the Pepper Avenue overpass modification appears to be complete.  Though previously anticipated, the bridge structure was NOT modified for a second main track.  From Cedar Avenue to here, the present track that follows alongside the main will apparently be upgraded to a second main

Nevertheless, this contributor still believes both mains will follow the Bypass route ...

... Because the right-of-way is too wide for merely single-track, as evidenced by the below previously posted photo.

Maricopa, AZ

This is the ex-California Zephyr domed observation CB&Q "Silver Horizon" that John Timm (desertdog) spoke about in his above post.  The 60-year old car (1948-2008) is made of stainless steel, and, I believe, does NOT rust.  The sad rusting visible undoubtedly is from some corroded maverick internal piping modification.  The Maricopa Amtrak station is out of view on the right, as well as UP's two-tracking project.  A link to an aerial view is in a post above

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:42 AM

Sunset Route Two-Tracking Garnet-Indio, CA as of May 18, 2008:

With high telephoto blur, this shot east of the Amtrak depot taken from the Indian Ave. overpass in Palm Springs appears to show the westernmost CTC signals of a new control point (CP).  That CP would be the eastern end of the present "South" siding at the timetable location called Garnet.

View is looking west from the Gene Autry Trail overpass.  The Salvia siding (far right) WILL remain, while the new second main is on the far left.  Present main is center track.

Salvia, looking east.  New signals are in background.

From Date Palm Ave., looking west.  Hardly a bridge for railfans!

Looking east.

From Ramon Road, looking west.

Looking east.  The old cantilevered signal bridge seen in previous views has been removed.

A bridge is being constructed in Indio for the second main

A Cursory Analysis of the Future Colton, CA Flyer

View looks NORTH, or eastbound, at BNSF's Los Angeles-Chicago Transcon.

Looking SOUTH, or westbound, at the Transcon's actual crossing of the Sunset Route.  New Orleans (east) is to the left, Los Angeles (west) to the right.  Immediately ahead is the Interstate 10 overhead.  Three blocks straight ahead is an underpass.  So, for all practical purposes, the BNSF main cannot be raised or lowered.

The Sunset Route proper ... The Rancho Ave. overpass on the west.  This is the western limit of the flyover.  Double-stack train is on the West Colton Yard's "Bypass" track

Through this enlightening east looking trackside view the grade situation is made easy to visualize.  From Rancho Ave. the shown Sunset Route grade is downward to where it levels off for crossing the BNSF Railway, and then heads downward again nearly a mile to the Mt. Vernon Ave. overpass.

View of the Mt. Vernon Ave. overpass.  The flyover cannot go east beyond this point.

A west facing shot from the approach to the Mt. Vernon Ave. overpass.  In the far background is the Rancho Ave. overpass.  In the center is the old Southern Pacific passenger depot.  Immediately left of it can be seen further back a BNSF Railway train crossing the "diamonds" in front of a waiting westbound Union Pacific train.  In the foreground is where the old Pacific Electric freight switching yard was located decades ago.  In reviewing Internet U. S. Geological Survey maps and data, the less than one and a quarter mile elevation increase from east (Mt. Vernon Ave., the camera location) to west (Rancho Ave., in the far background) appears to be around 45 feet, making for a present average 1% grade. 

This view looks east from the Mt. Vernon overpass area.  From right to left, the tracks continue to descend a couple of miles and then starts ascending through San Timoteo Canyon, the western slope of the famous Beaumont Hill

Analysis:  The future flyover has severe and challenging geographic design limitations placed upon it.

The key and severest gradient span will be between Mt. Vernon Ave. (in the east) and the BNSF Railway line (about 3/8's of a mile from Rancho Ave. in the west)

While the necessary track elevation increase is not insurmountable in itself, it will be interesting to see what design engineers come up with.

A Close-By Case Example

West of Colton, CA is the six mile long West Colton Yard classification facility.  At the east end of that yard a line shoots north to northern California and Oregon, the first 78 miles of which is known as the Palmdale Cutoff.  Northward on that Palmdale Cutoff, right out of West Colton Yard, is the Slover siding.  The north end of Slover and the line immediately past it conveniently provides our case study example ...

The north end of Slover siding.  After the Mill Street overpass (from which this picture was captured) in San Bernardino, the track rises steeply ...

 ... and goes over Rialto Ave. and the former route of the famous Santa Fe "Super Chief," which route is now owned my Metrolink, the commuter agency in the Los Angeles area.

The bridge viewed from the northeast

On the north side of the railroad bridge, the north-south track slopes steeply.

(For rail history buffs, left of the telephone poles but right of the trees is the alignment of the famous Pacific Electric trolley line that ran between Los Angeles and San Bernardino many, many years ago.  The line was in a deep cut to get underneath the then Santa Fe main behind the camera)

This view looking southward shows how steeply the line then descends.  The angled ex-Santa Fe line is in the left background

The line descends severely in order to go underneath Foothill Blvd., the famous "Route 66," where the below photograph was taken.  Comparing the rail line to the rather level land on each side of the track cut puts the downward slope's steepness into perspective

Conclusion:  The Colton Flyover is definitely possible, but will, by necessity, differ from traditional design gradients, if but for only a short distance

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by desertdog on Monday, May 26, 2008 9:38 PM

Considerable roadbed grading and ditching for drainage has taken place between Maricopa and Casa Grande since my last visit.  At Maricopa, it appears that a new switch will be cut in just west of the bridge that spans the large wash east of town.  I have no idea what purpose it will serve unless that is to be the new depot site.

At the Bon staging area there are several precast bridge sections with the word "Reject" painted in red across the end.  Closer to Tucson, several of the metal culverts have been tagged by the local grafitti "artists."  I wonder if they realize that their "art" will soon be buried for perhaps several centuries?

Ames Construction has moved a lot of equipment to a new site just east of the wye switch at Picacho on the north side of the tracks.

Now that the local mayors and the railroad have made peace, it will be interesting to know where they will install the underpasses that UP has commited to help fund.  Maricopa could really use one more than Casa Grande, but the main road through town and the local businesses are located in such a way that it will not be easy to follow the current route.

John Timm

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, June 1, 2008 9:23 PM

Update as of Saturday, May 31, 2008:

Pomona, CA   Temple Ave. overpass.  Looking westward at old Los Angeles & Salt Lake route.  View shows where the rerouted ex-Southern Pacific line will connect in background right.  At least three new turnouts have been constructed

In the past, this forum contributor understood that after the above new arrangement was all in place and operational, a couple miles of the original Sunset Route would be abandoned.  But, the following photos (from Temple Ave.) of a pending tie replacement program indicate otherwise

Westbound view

Eastbound

Anybody have an explanation for this?

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Posted by diningcar on Monday, June 2, 2008 9:48 AM
Perhaps I have missed something, but my understanding is : the Red Rock yard will be a LOGISTIC YARD, not a hump yard. Anyone else???
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Posted by desertdog on Monday, June 2, 2008 11:13 AM

 diningcar wrote:
Perhaps I have missed something, but my understanding is : the Red Rock yard will be a LOGISTIC YARD, not a hump yard. Anyone else???

By "logistic" you mean intermodal / transload, correct?  No, it is to be a classification yard.  I don't recall if it will be flat or a hump yard.

John Timm 

 

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:07 AM

Update as of June 18, 2008:

West Colton Yard, from the Cedar Ave. overpass, Bloomington, CA

Track workers are forming mainline replacement turnouts.  Views look west.  In the first photo, the not-in-service-yet track on the far right is the future Track 1

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by passengerfan on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:29 AM

KP

Thx for the continuing updates when its all completed on both lines it would make for an interesting book.

Al - in - Stockton

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Posted by Railway Man on Thursday, June 19, 2008 1:52 PM
 desertdog wrote:

 diningcar wrote:
Perhaps I have missed something, but my understanding is : the Red Rock yard will be a LOGISTIC YARD, not a hump yard. Anyone else???

By "logistic" you mean intermodal / transload, correct?  No, it is to be a classification yard.  I don't recall if it will be flat or a hump yard.

John Timm 

Red Rock will be a hump yard.

 

 

 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Thursday, June 19, 2008 6:51 PM
Probably like the newest yard in Louisiana, whose name I can't remember now--the hump will be just a few feet tall, and the business side will be equipped with Dowty retarders.  I'm sure the plans are out there somewhere, but I haven't seen them, and this is just a guess on my part.  RWM, do you know more about this?

Carl

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Posted by Railway Man on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:10 PM

You're thinking of Livonia.  Dowty retarders appear to be the standard now, and equip the rebuilt Roseville Yard. 

These new humps are not at all like yards such as Clearing, which is like standing on top of a ski jump by comparison.

RWM

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Posted by desertdog on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:37 PM
 Railway Man wrote:

You're thinking of Livonia.  Dowty retarders appear to be the standard now, and equip the rebuilt Roseville Yard. 

These new humps are not at all like yards such as Clearing, which is like standing on top of a ski jump by comparison.

RWM

A while back on another discussion group a Roseville employee was complaining about the design of the re-built Roseville Yard, especially the hump.  I don't recall the details.

John Timm

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Posted by CShaveRR on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:39 PM

Yep, Livonia's what I was thinking of.  For some reason, whenever I hear Livonia, I still think of Michigan.

By the way, RWM, congratulations on finally becoming a millennium poster! Wink [;)]

Time for bed now--back to the ski-jump tomorrow!  No Dowty about it!

Carl

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Posted by Railway Man on Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:45 PM
 CShaveRR wrote:

Time for bed now--back to the ski-jump tomorrow!  No Dowty about it!

I hope you can hear me groaning from 1,800 miles away!Dead [xx(]

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:57 PM

Desertdog:

Any new track laying developments out your way in Arizona?

Thanks.

K.P.

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Posted by desertdog on Thursday, June 19, 2008 11:21 PM

KP,

I have not been down to Maricopa or beyond for several weeks but will be heading to Tucson the week after next on business and will make sure to take the "scenic route." 

John T.

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, June 23, 2008 6:40 PM

Update as of Monday, June 23, 2008:

At West Colton Yard, adjacent the Riverside Ave. overpass in Rialto, CA what is identified as Track 112 but is to become Main Track 2 has been freshly ballasted.   A new but unhooked up signal has been erected west of Riverside Ave. for that track.  Because of motorist traffic, a photo could not be taken.  Maybe another time ...

A note to desertdog:

Thanks for replying to the recent inquiry.  Sunset Route followers eagerly look forward to your enlightening report of your finding after you pass through Maricopa, AZ in the near future

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 10:46 AM
if anyone would like to know the 2nd main track in arizona will go as follows: starting at the siding estrella the track will be laid on the south side of the current main track all the way through maricopa.  leaving the sidings of estrella, mobile, and enid untouched.  the siding of maricopa will be the new main.  just east of the amtrak depot the new main will change to the north side of the rail through the siding of bon and then change back to the south side through casa grande.  there will be an additional siding bon made for maricopa grain train parking.  after casagrande it changes once again to the north side through toltec siding and the north siding of picacho.  after picacho it changes back to the south side all the way to tucson.  eliminating sidings: wymola, naviska, rillito, and kino.  red rock will stay a siding due to it eventually being a 3rd track towards picacho from the hump yard that will be built in about a hundred more years. ha!  the east end of tucson is done to el paso and no plans on any work between vail and mescal on the #2 track because the state was going to foot the bill and they're to broke right now to worry about high wide semi's on the freeway not being able to fit under the underpass.  i apologize for my lack of punctuation but i am horrible on the keyboard
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, June 27, 2008 2:02 AM

To ilikeplanes:

Thanks for you report ... and welcome to the forum.

Do you know if UP is laying track anywhere between Estrella and Tucson, AZ?

K.P.

  

 

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Posted by cacole on Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:17 AM

A news release by the Arizona Department of Transportation that appeared in newspapers on Sunday, June 29th, indicates that the Union Pacific track realignment between Vail and Mescal to eliminate the Marsh Station / Interstate 10 bridge is still on, with a completion date of December 2010.

A local fiber optics contractor told me that they have been awarded a contract to move fiber optics cabling away from track #1 between Vail and Mescal to allow room for the second line.

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, June 30, 2008 10:10 AM

As of Sunday, June 29, 2008:

West Colton Yard, from the Riverside Ave. overpass, Rialto, CA

View looks westward at un-activated new signal for the future Track 2.  Before West Colton Yard was built in 1973, there was only a single straight main without a jog.  A number of years ago Amtrak's Sunset Limited derailed at the jog as the rail turned over.  All the passenger cars remain upright 

See the train headlight in the distance?  Won't such approaching trains get a good view of the new signal?

Is this a new, covered-up pot signal to govern yard access to Track 2 (on right)?

Is this a base for a future cantilevered signal?  If so, why is there a new mast signal also?

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Monday, June 30, 2008 1:01 PM

last i heard they have yet to have any plans to start putting down track between estrella and tucson.  these rumors change on a daily basis so i honestly don't know.  i do know that the track that was placed there from a work train about 9 months ago has not moved so if one day it ends up on the newly graded side then i am sure ties and ballast are soon to follow. 

   as for the #2 track from vail to mescal,that was never much of a u.p. plan to straighten that out.  the state was complaining about the bridge being too low for overweight trucks to get through.  so the state was supposed to fund the project. i know nothing about what the states financial plans are at the moment other than they're not doing well. they may say they wnt the new track tommorrow or may say next year.  all i know is that according to the track guys there is no plans anytime soon and usually they have a good 3-6 month heads up on plans.   the re-route plan was posted in a newspaper here well over a year ago and a busload of surveyers and contractors flocked to the location only to let the plans collect dust ever since.  trust me i am not being opinionated .  i hate that stretch of track and would love to see it straight and speed kicked up but i would be surprized if it happens soon.  it would knock and hour off the trip.

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Monday, June 30, 2008 1:07 PM
 cacole wrote:

A news release by the Arizona Department of Transportation that appeared in newspapers on Sunday, June 29th, indicates that the Union Pacific track realignment between Vail and Mescal to eliminate the Marsh Station / Interstate 10 bridge is still on, with a completion date of December 2010.

A local fiber optics contractor told me that they have been awarded a contract to move fiber optics cabling away from track #1 between Vail and Mescal to allow room for the second line.

 

 

which strikes me as odd because the part of the 2 track that is to be straightend out is almost a mile apart from the #1 track.  even after the new track the two will not be close together seing as the new track will start at mp1013 and re-attatch at 1020.  both places are quite a distance from the #1.  could it be that he was mistaken?

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Posted by desertdog on Saturday, July 5, 2008 7:35 PM

From Maricopa east for several miles, crews have put down what appears to be finely crushed rock on top of the graded embankment for the second main.  No ballast, rail or ties are evident yet.  There are lengths of new rail lying on either side of the present main but they may be there to replace the existing rail.  I don't know this for sure; it's just conjecture on my part.

The embankment in largely in place from Maricopa to Casa Grande and all the culverts appear to be complete, including safety railings.  From Casa Grande east, there is some rough grading in progress as far as Eloy and some culverts and new bridges are complete.  East of there to Tucson, there are no signs of any new embankment and the culverts are in various stages of completion.

John Timm

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