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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 1:18 PM

Here are some fairly recent views of the progress at Sandpoint. There will also be a smaller bridge added where the line crosses the mouth of Sand Creek.

https://railpictures.net/photo/768657/

https://railpictures.net/photo/768653/

https://railpictures.net/photo/768569/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by diningcar on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 1:19 PM

Shadow the Cats owner
From looking at videos of that bridge I do not see how they could do it short of realignment of the mainline into and out of Fort Madison.   Add

Having been there, and actually walking out onto the swing span pier supports, I am suggesting that the current swingspan passage is much nearer to Fort Madison than is necessary. If the proposed new higher bridge, without a movable passage way, was higher nearer to the Illinois side then the higher elevation could be achieved by raising the gradient, for the most part, in Illinois where there is little development. Yes, there would likely be some additional eastward gradient but it could be achieved mostly on the new bridge, and minimal in the City of Fort Madison. And no, I am not a bridge engineer, just an old surveyor type.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 3:13 PM
 

Shadow the Cats owner

My hubby and I ran into a couple friends of ours yesterday.  One of them is a MOW worker for the BNSF.  He has been told after the bridge in Sandpoint ID is built I guess that is their current big project then they have 2 projects here in the Midwest.  1st off is double tracking the Missouri River crossing.  The next one is replacing the Mississippi river crossing at Fort Madison with something that may not even have to be opened for barge traffic.  From looking at videos of that bridge I do not see how they could do it short of realignment of the mainline into and out of Fort Madison.  

 

I always wondered if BNSF would eventually replace the swing span at Ft. Madison with a fixed span. 

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 11:40 PM

Bruce Kelly

Here are some fairly recent views of the progress at Sandpoint. There will also be a smaller bridge added where the line crosses the mouth of Sand Creek.

https://railpictures.net/photo/768657/

https://railpictures.net/photo/768653/

https://railpictures.net/photo/768569/

 Very interesting photos.  BNSF is using for the most part same number of 6 pilings per bent but they appear larger diameter.  Noted that the spans are going to be longer but all do not seem to be the same length ?  Any way probably will have a much higher cooper rating ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 8:23 PM

Just discovered the BNSF website for the Sandpoint Junction Connector project:  

 https://keepsandpointrolling.com/

Some other good construction photos, including the new bridge over Bridge Street.

Also keeping my 'eyes open' for extension of Boyer siding, as today's longer trains need a place to stage for the current single track bottleneck over the lake. When the new bridge is complete the old bridge will be refurbished, thus extending the bottleneck a little longer.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 1:40 PM

In lieu of recent linkable photos and other details, here is a BNSF PR piece on the Emporia sub second MT project:  http://www.bnsf.com/news-media/railtalk/service/emporia.html

From posts on The Other railfan site progress is happening on the Ellinor-Bazar segment and may be close to completion. Likewise ROW work between Aikman and Matfield Green is ongoing; the new bridge over KS-177 would be a good measure.

Contractor work on other segments should be starting but I've yet to find any details.

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Posted by diningcar on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 4:25 PM

Mike, thanks for keeping us (me) informed about the Southern Transcon.

I was a Party Chief (Transitman) when Santa Fe constructed the Williams - Crookton line change in 1959-1960. Things were much different then. We were able to build this 44 mile line through the basalt, limestone and volcanic rock starting 9-01-1959 and running the first train (#19 The Chief) 12-19-1960.

The contractor, Morrison-Knudsen, worked two nine hour shifts six day a week and the equipment was serviced or moved to the next site during the six hours that the equipment operators were resting.

Today you could not even determine how many permits might be required in the 15 months we took to complete this relocation.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 9:02 AM

Hell can you imagine trying to build from scratch the interstate highway system today.  The nimby and banana crowds would have it tied up in court for decades.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 9:07 AM

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Hell can you imagine trying to build from scratch the interstate highway system today.  The nimby and banana crowds would have it tied up in court for decades.  

Did you ever stop to think that the manner in which the Interstate system was rammed through certain locations is the prime reason for the creation of the nimby, banana movements.  For every action there is a reaction.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, August 5, 2021 1:40 AM

When I lived in Sacramento in the late 80s and early 90s, the airport was relatively lightly used. It was northwest of town in the country, somewhat along the Sacramento River. With the prevailing wind, traffic would take off and land primarily on a north-south axis, flying straight over the meandering river. As the area grew, houses sprang up on both sides of the river - expensive houses. Real estate with dockable riverfront was highly coveted. The occasional overflight of a regional airline aircraft was a mild nuisance and living on the river was pleasant.

Then Southwest Airlines came to town and decided to make Sacramento a somewhat regional hub of sorts. Tan-and-orange-liveried 737s were the largest planes in and out of SMF and the flight frequency was way up. Many of the Southwest planes were not the turbofan model but the original 737-200 model, so the roar was much louder than the whine of today's turbofan-equipped models.

Needless to say, all heck broke lose with wealthy river-front dwellers demanding to shut down and move the airport, etc. It didn't matter that the airport was there first and they bought land and built their homes under the flight path. They did not want those planes nearby.

They did not carry the day, but there was a lot of sturm und drang. Not in their backyard.

(38.6930772, -121.5873071)

https://www.angelfire.com/dc/douglasjets/Southwest200photos.html

 

 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 5, 2021 7:37 AM

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Hell can you imagine trying to build from scratch the interstate highway system today.  The nimby and banana crowds would have it tied up in court for decades.  

There is a very large debate ongoing about how to best handle I-81 through downtown Syracuse.  The road is elevated now - there is talk of removing that, sending through traffic around the existing bypass, and going to surface streets along the route.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 5, 2021 7:56 AM

The first 'Cars' movie is a ode to what happens when a US route gets replaced by a Interstate and how small towns that dpended on the US route get affected.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 8:06 PM

I've not seen any recent updates on the Emporia sub 2MT project although a poster elsewhere said the Gladstone-Bazar new MT was due to be cut in 'soon'.

Over on the northern transcon BNSF and its contractors worked through December; the bridge superstructure is being finished.  The lake drawdown in winter may help construction but recent PNW storms may have had an impact.  Perhaps our occasional local poster BK has more info.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 8:56 PM

Thanks for the update Mike.

Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 7:25 AM

While not completely current (publishing lag time), there is an article in the latest Trains on that very subject.

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Posted by dpeltier on Thursday, January 6, 2022 12:05 AM

MikeF90

Over on the northern transcon BNSF and its contractors worked through December; the bridge superstructure is being finished.  The lake drawdown in winter may help construction but recent PNW storms may have had an impact.  Perhaps our occasional local poster BK has more info.

Basically: all the piling on the long bridge have now been driven, and most of the bents are done as well (i.e. pier caps and cross-bracing installed). A small number of spans have been installed as well. In 2022, work will consist mostly of setting beams and pouring concrete decks. Track construction is still scheduled for 2023.

There are actually two other shorter bridges required for the project. The first is over Bridge St., and that one is complete. The second, as Bruce noted, is over Sand Creek. That one is under construction as well and coming along fairly well. The causeway that leads up to the existing bridge on the north (railroad East) end is not being widened to accommodate the second track. The new bridge will be considerably longer than the existing bridge and will span the whole existing waterway, with the new north (RR east) abutment approximately in line with the US-95 abutment.

Dan

(I am a BNSF employee but the opinions expressed are strictly my own - I am not speaking for BNSF.)

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Posted by dpeltier on Thursday, January 6, 2022 12:25 AM

blue streak 1
Very interesting photos.  BNSF is using for the most part same number of 6 pilings per bent but they appear larger diameter.  Noted that the spans are going to be longer but all do not seem to be the same length ?  Any way probably will have a much higher cooper rating ?

 

 

Note that the 6-pile bents on the existing bridge are not original; I believe they were installed this century when that end of the bridge was reconstructed under traffic. As such they were probably spaced as much for constructability as anything.

The new bridge has longer spans just because it's more economical that way. The tradeoff between longer beams versus more bents has changed since the original bridge was constructed.

The new bridge will be built to BNSF's current standards, which at the moment call for an E-80 design load. (I believe some other roads use E-90 instead.) I don't know what the condition-based Cooper rating is for the existing bridge but obviously it's adequate to handle anything that moves today on either the hi line or the MRL.

Dan

(I am a BNSF employee but the opinions expressed are strictly my own - I am not speaking for BNSF.)

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, January 6, 2022 5:29 PM

Thanks for the update Dan!  I wonder if there is a public planning doc that shows how the second track will be shoehorned between US95 north to Sandpoint Jct, looks like somethings got to move ....

Per a post on The Other site the latest completion schedule-of-the-month for the Emporia sub upgrade is: West Gladstone to East Bazar - end of Feb 2022, Aikman to Matfield Green - summer 2022, Bazar to Matfield Green - summer 2023, balance (Chelsea to Mulvane) late 2024.

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Posted by dpeltier on Friday, January 7, 2022 7:18 AM

MikeF90

Thanks for the update Dan!  I wonder if there is a public planning doc that shows how the second track will be shoehorned between US95 north to Sandpoint Jct, looks like somethings got to move ....

There probably is such a document in the public record as part of the permitting process, but the short answer is that it's the Amtrak platform that has to move. The station building can stay where it is, but the platform won't fit between building and tracks. It will have to be offset. 15' track centers through this area.

There will be a universal crossover between the big bridge and the Amtrak building. By the time you get to Amtrak, there will be one track for the MRL and one for BNSF. Fortunately, the station is on the BNSF side!

Dan

(I am a BNSF employee but the opinions expressed are strictly my own. I am not speaking for BNSF.)

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, January 7, 2022 8:31 PM

In a Trains NewsWire article today, BNSF talked about double tracking the Bakersfield and Stockton subdivisions in the next decade .Is that all the way from Barstow to the Bay Area?  Is the UP planning on double tracking Tehachapi?

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/tunnel-project-underscores-bnsfs-battle-with-nature-in-2021/

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, January 8, 2022 3:45 PM

MidlandMike
Is that all the way from Barstow to the Bay Area? Is the UP planning on double tracking Tehachapi?

Previous projects on Tehachapi (UP Mojave sub) have been put on hold before. Based on my periodic views of the webcams, I don't see UP or BNSF having enough traffic for major upgrades. I would vote for the single track Caliente - Bealville segment first; the DS does an impressive job on the single/double track Woodford to Cable. IMO further upgrades to very steep and twisty Bealville-Woodford-Walong-Cable need a very long, expensive tunnel that UP would never pay for; previous upgrades were funded by BNSF and I think Caltrans.

An extra track on BNSF between Stockton and Turlock (Google map) would probably be built first due to planned commuter service. Not too hard :), joining a bunch of sidings that aren't too far apart. Surprised that they aren't using the underutilized UP instead.

Another old project to add a third track to the Cajon sub east of Summit seems to be deferred. I'm guessing that PSR is the culprit - they run a lot of long trains between Barstow and the LA basin.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Sunday, February 20, 2022 4:00 PM

Per another poster elsewhere, on the southern transcon work is closing in on construction of the second track from E Bazar/Flint to Gladstone.  The big new RR bridge across Hwy 177 is finished so the Aikman-Matfield Green segment looks on schedule for completion late this year.

Advance grading work is starting near E Matfield Green as there is a major amount of fill to be removed by next year. This should be helpful to the upgrade west of Augusta as it appears that the ROW is the highest terrain there.

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Posted by David1005 on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 10:17 PM

I see where BNSF announced today that they will be putting more triple track in California in 2022. Can someone identify where this will be?  Is this from Summit to Barstow, or may west of Riverside?  I cannot see it up the valley or anywhere else in Northern California. 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 2:10 PM

David1005
I see where BNSF announced today that they will be putting more triple track in California in 2022. Can someone identify where this will be?

No doubt more details will appear soon, but the only active 3MT project I know of is the stretch just west of Needles. There are other possibilities (mostly SoCal) but we'll have to wait and see.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, March 4, 2022 7:15 AM

Cajon to Barstow has long been rumored, but one can't rull,out some of the tougher grades such as Ash Hill.

(34.5684713, -117.3154966)

Here are the Google Maps coordinates for the bridge at Victorville.

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, March 4, 2022 7:37 AM

Probably where UP operates between Daggett and Riverside

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Friday, March 4, 2022 7:53 AM
 

A contractor just layed out some storm drainage for the 3MT at Goffs Hill.

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, April 3, 2022 12:17 PM

Buying back its former Northern Pacific for approximately $2 billion gives BNSF effectively paired main tracks or double track all the way from Galesburg to Seattle.

I would not be surprised if they took out an intercompany loan from Berkshire Hathaway, utilizing the enormous BH cash balance, which they will then repay to BH with interest.

With MRL no longer controlling capital investment of the line, BNSF will be able to add more or extend sidings into long passing sidings on the former NP and perhaps add PTC, which will definitely give it optionality and capacity.

It will be interesting to see how many trains per day they will be able to add to that route. In the long run, it is probably the most cost-effective way to add capacity back to the Northern Transcon. I am sure their planners ran all the numbers.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Monday, April 4, 2022 7:06 PM

kgbw49
Buying back its former Northern Pacific for approximately $2 billion gives BNSF effectively paired main tracks or double track all the way from Galesburg to Seattle.

That sounds like a relative bargain price. I may start a map that shows MRL points of interest and future possible construction.

I'm still puzzled by the lack of action on existing bottlenecks. Many sidings between Sandpoint and Whitefish are ridiculously short and surprisingly no hints of improvement. However the new Pend Oreille bridge work seems to be moving right along.

Likewise, the Emporia sub 2MT upgrade seems to be going quite slowly given the 'relative' flatness of eastern Kansas. I often see stopped eastbound traffic on the Wichita VR webcam just waiting for that new MT Smile.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 9:50 AM

Two interesting documents from the US Coast Guard site.

In thsee documents there is reference to the new bridge being planned for the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan being capable of two main tracks.

There is also reference to the design of a new bridge at Sibley, Missouri with 400-foot trusses.

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/BNSF%20FAQ%2017OCT%202019_Redacted.pdf

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/BNSF%20Design%20Concept%20Explanation_6NOV2019%20FINAL%20Version_Redacted.pdf

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