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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, November 24, 2016 10:58 PM

diningcar (11-24):

Your reply was quite informative.   It raised questions, though, which you probably can answer.

For clarification, on the two Transcon routes north and east out of Mulvane, KS, are all the dual-control siding switches 40 M.P.H.?  If so, the two routes are well suited for the ‘not so many trains’ like you mentioned in your November 18, 2016 post.  The partial route of Amtrak Nos. 3 & 4 you said was the ‘North Track’ back in 1995.  Is it still the ‘North Track’ or is it now identified as ‘Main 1’?   Since you didn’t mention it in your post, is the less mileage route the ‘South Track,’ possibly now Main 2?  And, what is the point of having TWO ‘South’ track routes for a few miles east out of Mulvane?

Those 10 M.P.H. switches you mentioned are presumed to be the ‘wye’ connection to the Oklahoma route as seen on aerials, and those aerials suggest those switches are unpowered and not dual-control, which implies they are not used much.  In the Barstow-Lenwood area on the southern Transcon in Southern California, a similar situation existed since the Barstow Classification Yard was put in circa 1976.  In the last few decades that track was made a lengthy ‘wye’ track and signaled.

That ‘wye’ type track doesn’t see much traffic.  K.P. has never seen a train on it over the years.  It is basically for trains going north-south in California and up to or from Oregon.

A source told me the highly trafficked single-track line out of Barstow (to Tehachapi and up north) uses 40 M.P.H. switches, and trains with LINED signals can enter and exit those sidings at 40 M.P.H.  The two routes in Kansas that you, diningcar, mentioned probably have that running through the siding at 40 M.P.H. arrangements too.

Enough for now,

K.P.

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, November 25, 2016 9:01 AM

Good morning KP,

First a reminder, the Mulvane info posted yesterday was from a 1995 timetable. On that topic the two 10 MPM switches connecting the NORTH track of the Emporia Sub to the Arkansas City Sub (Newton to Arkansas City) were there for two reasons. 1. To permit the then CTC dual directional Emporia Sub's North track to be used both eastward and westward, at the Dispatcher discreation, as a "siding" so that expedited Transcon trains could use the South track through Mulvane. 2. The northward "Texas-Oklahoma trains destined for Kansas City could exit the Ark City Sub with the 10 MPH switch onto the North Track of the Emporia Sub and continue toward KC without going to Newton.

I believe that there was no bias employed by dispatchers and they used whatever was at their disposal in CTC territory to expedite the movement of trains. 

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, November 25, 2016 6:02 PM

Now further about current operations in the vicinity of Mulvane as compared with what was obtained from the 1995 TT.

I do not have a current TT but shall make this analysis by examining the Google Earth photos blown up so detail can be seen; and recognizing that the Emporia Sub is now (under normal conditions) a westward operation component of the Transcon.

The north track, Main 1, still intersects the Ark City Sub but without a switch. It is a continous track toward south Mulvane where it then blends to the right, with I assume high speed switches, continuing westward on the Transcon as Main 1. Main 2 continues to the south of Mulvane and the two rejoin SW of the Arkansas River.

Eastward Transcon trains are on Main 1 as they approach Mulvane and blend into the Ark City Sub; then continue (under normal conditions) through Wichita toward Newton and then east to Ellinor.

Trains from OK and TX continue through Mulvane on the Ark City Sub to Newton.

Westward trains for OK and TX depart the Emporia Sub at Augusta and join the Ark City Sub at Winfield.

Now I solicit any info that will further elaborate or correct the assumptions made from examining  the current Google Earth photos.

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Posted by diningcar on Saturday, November 26, 2016 9:36 AM

KP of 11-25: The route of Amtrak 3 & 4 between Ellinor and Newton is single track except within Newton yard limits and is named the Newton Sub. The Emporia Sub (Emporia via El Dorado to Wellington ) is three main tracks to Ellinor, where the most northerly track continues on to Newton.

The Emporia Sub is a mixture of single and two main tracks with long sidings where there is single track. All switches are high speed except through cities like El Dorado, Augusta and Mulvane. I do not have TT's to provide specifics but Google Earth analysis should provide those interested with good info. The two 10 MPH switches in Mulvane shown in the 1995 TT are gone and what was then called the North track is now Main 1 as it continues parallel to the Ark City Sub and the crosses over it to continue SW to rejoin Main 2 after crossing the Arkansas River.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:14 AM

Great stuff, guys, on the whole configuration at Mulvane, KS and detailing how the operations work in the area where the two main tracks diverge between there and Ellinor. Thanks so much for sharing that great information with us. When one looks at it from Google Maps, it almost looks like something one would find on a model railroad, but it is real life in 1:1 scale. Great stuff and thanks!

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:03 PM

A Severely Angled Tracks-New Overpass

Part “A” (of A-E)

This involves the far western “southern” Transcon, which was two-tracked about 25 years ago, and a very recent grade separation that is a little different from the run of the mill types.  Magnolia Ave. severely angle-crossed the BNSF, so the new overpass had to have cross supports.

Its location is the border between Corona and Riverside (CA), and while only two-tracks are present presently, the right-of-way looks to be five-tracks wide.  Looking westbound from the southwest side of the Buchanan Street grade crossing:

Continued in Part B

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:06 PM

A Severely Angled Tracks-New Overpass

Part “B” (of A-E)

From the north side of the grade crossing:

From the south side of Magnolia Ave, looking westbound:

The sidewalk:

Continued in Part C

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:10 PM

A Severely Angled Tracks-New Overpass

Part “C” (of A-E)

Over the tracks, the bridge’s rod-iron has meshing.

Believe it or not, trains are hard to see from up on the overpass.

Even on one’s knees, trains are hard to see on the opening under the fence.

Continued in Part D

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:15 PM

A Severely Angled Tracks-New Overpass

Part “D” (of A-E)

The meshing ends once the tracks are clear of unscrupulous people dropping things onto trains.  The view also gives one a sense of the angle of the tracks in relation to Magnolia Ave.

Looking eastbound, an overview of the angle:

Magnolia Ave. looking northeast:

Continued in Part E

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:23 PM

A Severely Angled Tracks-New Overpass

Part “E” (of A-E)

A wider northeast view:

Above, Magnolia Ave. is separated with a path between traffic lanes.  Decades ago the Pacific Electric trolley cars passed on the center area.  They crossed the Santa Fe, not on a diamond, but switches because of the severe angle that needed to be crossed.

The Buchanan Street grade crossing:

Just above, when K.P. was a kid there was no flood control channel, nor houses here.  And no crossing gates, just a wigwag.

In the heyday of San Fe passenger trains, most of them traversed the Second District, north of here.  A few came this way, on the Third District.  The Grand Canyon (Nos. 23 and 24) passed here.

When K.P. was a kid, he saw two warbonnet passenger trains zoom through here in rapid succession.  The first one had PA’s on the point, with green flags.  The second was right on its block, and had F’s.  When one is a kid and young, things are eternal.  K.P. found out the hard way that wasn’t true.  The passenger trains are but a memory now.

While to the west, even farther than Corona, three tracks become two.  There is an old signal bridge there instead of a new cantilever structure.  Such often insinuates triple-track here may be in the future.  But, the Metrolink commuter platforms are only for two-tracks, which could mean a number of things.

Anyway, K.P. was desirous of conveying to the forum about the new Magnolia Ave. overpass.   The most significant, as mentioned at the outset, is the wide bridging, for five tracks.  If nothing else, that will ensure BNSF will be able to add more tracks here if it so chooses.

This will end the series.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 kgbw49 on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 5:41 PM

Well, K.P., here is the best I can do on short notice in terms of finding what is out there...

Image result for santa fe passenger train on surfline

Image result for santa fe passenger train on surfline

The other thing I need to say is thank you for your outstanding reporting year in and year out! We all benefit from your comprehensive coverage and it is greatly appreciated!

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Posted by David1005 on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:40 AM

BNSF has announced that they are moving forward with second bridge over the lake at Sandpoint , ID. 

http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com/front_page_slider/20170418/bnsf_moves_forward_with_second_bridge

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Posted by kgbw49 on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3:35 AM

Activated the link...

http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com/front_page_slider/20170418/bnsf_moves_forward_with_second_bridge

Also, here is an article from a Boise paper in 2014 where they discuss the initial design and permitting work and indicate that BNSF hopes to have the bridge built by approximately 2018, so it sounds like BNSF has been plugging away on this project for a number of years...

http://www.boiseweekly.com/CityDesk/archives/2014/08/28/bnsf-plans-new-rail-bridge-over-lake-pend-oreille-in-north-idaho

 

 

 
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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 8:14 PM

The bottle-neck will still have lots of single track between Sandpoint and Spokane.  I suppose it will be nice to have an alternate bridge to the existing 100 year old bridge which had to be shut down last year for repairs.

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:40 PM

Some additional info on the proposed second bridge can be found here:

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/freight/class-i/bnsf-greenlights-second-idaho-bridge.html?channel=50

If that bridge was in service today, there would be less than 18 miles of single track across the roughly 67 miles between Sandpoint and Spokane. The longest section of single track, 11 miles between Rathdrum and Athol (with a roughly 2 mile siding mid-way at Ramsey), might finally begin to see its second main laid some time this year. The shortest section of single track, 2.5 miles between Cocolalla and West Algoma, will require some serious effort to squeeze a second track between U.S. Hwy 95 and the shore of Lake Cocolalla. (At least one study says the highway will have to be relocated to higher ground.) The third section of single track, 4 miles between Irvin and Otis Orchards, will require substantial fill work and a second bridge in order to cross the Spokane River.

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 24, 2017 9:16 AM

What Exactly Will Be Built Across …

… Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, Idaho?

According to the Boise Weekly (linked above) in referring to Railway Age’s reporting, the ‘new’ bride would be constructed with track centers about ‘50 feet apart.’  Does that mean a new bridge with two-tracks that are separated or a single-track new bridge less than 50 feet from the old one?

The present bridge is over 110 years old, so it would seem it would be a candidate for total replacement.  Could some clarify the matter?

Thanks,

K.P.

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Monday, April 24, 2017 9:40 AM

K.P., that Boise Weekly story is a few years old. Per BNSF's info conveyed in my RA story from a week ago, the new bridge will be single track, operating in tandem with the existing bridge, and allowing them greater flexibility to finish the upgrading of the existing bridge.

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/freight/class-i/bnsf-greenlights-second-idaho-bridge.html?channel=50

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, April 28, 2017 12:49 AM

Comparison

A comparable bridge (to the 1905 built BNSF Lake Pend Oreille bridge in Idaho) is this 1905 Viaduct Bridge in Riverside, CA on the LA&SL (UP), an alternate Sunset Route routing.

That above ‘road’ passing under the Viaduct in the first above photo is a hiking / bike trail.  The bottom photo's background greenery is a golf course, for those that like to play golf and watch trains.

That Viaduct Bridge is now 117 years old and is seemingly eternal.  I find it fascinating that the old, same year 1905 built BNSF Lake Pend Oreille bridge in Idaho hasn’t fared so well.  In replacing small portions of that Idaho bridge maybe (“maybe”) BNSF discovered it was worse off than expected, so they figured they would build a new one and then return to replace all the remaining sections of the old one.  Has that concept occurred to anyone else?

Bruce Kelly (4-24):

Thanks for the technical clarification.  Two bridges side by side will be something to see.

Thanks,

K.P.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 PNWRMNM on Friday, April 28, 2017 7:41 AM

KP,

The two bridges are comparable only in age. The BNSF bridge is multiple span steel deck plate girders on concrete piers. I do not know if the piers are on bedrock or unconsolidated sediments. I suspect unconsolidated sediments, If so, then piers are probably supported by driven piles.

Mac

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:44 PM

A recent article in a Bonner county newspaper indicates that BNSF is proceeding on their local capacity improvement projects. Construction of the second MT between Rathdrum and Athol may start next year. Grading work had started previously but was halted.

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Sunday, May 28, 2017 11:51 PM

As usual, another newspaper story that botches a number of points, misquotes its main source, and leaves the public misinformed. Trains being "disconnected" at Hauser? That could possibly be a reference to the handful of trains that tie down in the yard and have their power shuffled over to Main 3 for fueling, but the vast majority of trains which do get fueled there roll in on Mains 4, 5, or 6 and remain intact unless there's a mechanical issue requiring swap out of a unit.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Sunday, October 29, 2017 4:20 PM

Paging @Bruce Kelly !!

From posts elsewhere I noticed that the Rathdrum - Athol second main project is much farther along than previously thought. I monitor the Yahoo ATCSMon group but no updates there yet.

Reportedly it was supposed to be complete last week.  Is this true?  TIA!

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Monday, October 30, 2017 12:07 AM

Second main (Main 1) between Rathdrum and West Ramsey entered service earlier this month. Ramsey siding is now operating as part of the new Main 1. Crews are still putting the finishing touches on second main between East Ramsey and Athol. Track is in place, but final track cutover and removal of old switches has not been completed. Dual crossovers are in place just west of the Brunner Road crossing between Ramsey and Athol. A few of us had hoped this site would be named CP North Pole in honor of the former townsite/village that once existed there. I passed that along to a couple of people closely involved with the project, and the name was being given consideration, but I was told the directional reference (North) is something BNSF is currently trying to avoid in its station names.

Hauser Yard has also undergone major expansion with Main 3 finally extended west and east to full run-through refueling main status, giving Hauser four complete run-through refueling mains (3 thru 6). Main 3 had been a short servicing track for light power accessed directly from the adjacent yard since the fuel pad's opening in 2004. Yard and fuel pad leads at East Hauser have been reconfigured and extended east to the Greensferry Road bridge. The refueling mains used to converge into a single track at East Hauser, which then converged with the yard lead, which then converged with Main 2. Only one train at a time could arrive or depart the yard or fuel pad at East Hauser under the old set-up. The refueling mains have been extended and augmented with multiple crossovers in such a way that there can now be two trains arriving and/or departing the fuel pad and/or yard simultaneously.

 

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Posted by billio on Monday, October 30, 2017 7:40 AM

Bruce Kelly

Second main (Main 1) between Rathdrum and West Ramsey entered service earlier this month. Ramsey siding is now operating as part of the new Main 1. Crews are still putting the finishing touches on second main between East Ramsey and Athol. Track is in place, but final track cutover and removal of old switches has not been completed. Dual crossovers are in place just west of the Brunner Road crossing between Ramsey and Athol. A few of us had hoped this site would be named CP North Pole in honor of the former townsite/village that once existed there. I passed that along to a couple of people closely involved with the project, and the name was being given consideration, but I was told the directional reference (North) is something BNSF is currently trying to avoid in its station names. [Snip] 

These new second nain track segments give BNSF double track from Spokane to where?  Cocolalla, maybe?   And when they're both complete, how much single track remaining to the bridge across Lake Pend Oreille?  Thanks in advance, both for the update and the answers. --billio

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Monday, October 30, 2017 7:49 AM

Two main tracks from Sunset Jct (east end of Latah Creek Bridge) in Spokane to Irvin, WA; then single track from Irvin across Spokane River bridge to Otis Orchards, WA; then two main tracks from Otis Orchards to Cocolalla, ID; single track from Cocolalla past Lake Cocolalla to West Algoma; two main tracks from West Algoma to East Algoma at west (geographically southeast) end of the Lake Pend Oreille bridge.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, October 30, 2017 2:51 PM

Bruce Kelly (10-30):

Posts in the “Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates” thread are easy for me to relate to because of my familiarity to that route, and the present basically lack of two-tracking thereon as UP is preoccupied with the Positive Train Control (PTC) government mandate.  However, BNSF undoubtedly is likewise preoccupied with PTC, but your very recent posts in this thread suggest BNSF is two-tracking on the western northern Transcon to some degree, unlike UP.  Could you convey to me post-wise something I could comprehend as to actual two-tracking activity up on the northern Transcon?

Ironically, just this morning my wife asked me what I planned on doing with the two tons of gold in my trunk set aside for vacationing. (Yah, right!)  Maybe next spring I could use part of the stash to see and comprehend that western part of the northern Transcon two-tracking.  Do you have any recommendations for seeing two-tracking up that way?

Thanks,

K.P.

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Posted by David1005 on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 12:38 AM

For years I have heard that the Cascade tunnel was a bottleneck on the BNSF to the extent that there was talk about adding a second bore. Recently I was at the Flathead tunnel which is similar to the Cascade tunnel in length and ventilation scheme.  Big difference being it is east of Spokane where there should be even more traffic. Why is the Flathead tunnel not the big bottleneck?  

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 9:58 AM

Just got back from three days in Flathead Tunnel country myself. Traffic levels are astounding right now. Quite a few trains headed either direction getting re-crewed roughly mid-way through their trip in the Troy-Kootenai Falls-Libby area, as well as elsewhere. From Troy west, not much easy access for crew shuttles due to the Kootenai River Canyon until Crossport or Bonners Ferry.

Flathead Tunnel's ventilation system was upgraded in the past few years, which may have cut down the flush time there compared with Cascade. Still, Flathead does require a flush between trains. Westbounds often have to wait at Twin Meadows at the east portal after meeting an eastbound while the tunnel is flushed. In some cases, the door at the east end will close and additional flushing will occur while a westbound is inside. Those blowers are so loud that they can be heard (on a quiet, wind-less day) as a distant hum clear over on the west side of the mountain at the forest road overpass just west of Rock Creek.

A major difference between Flathead and Cascade is that the grades approaching Flathead from either side max out at 1 percent and the grade inside the tunnel is 0.48 percent ascending eastward, while Cascade has grades of up to 2.2 percent approaching from either side, and the grade within the tunnel is 1.57 percent ascending eastward. In other words, the grade within Cascade Tunnel is more than three times as steep as the grade within Flathead Tunnel. 

Also, the engineering of the main line via Flathead opened in 1970 with its generally broad valleys vs. the engineering of the main line via Cascade Tunnel opened in 1929 makes for a big difference in overall running speeds.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:14 PM

KP,  the only major 2 tracking of the western Northern Transcon that I have heard about is on the "funnel" between Sandpoint (where BNSF and MRL/ex-NP converge from the east) and Spokane (where the lines to Seattle and Pasco diverge west).

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, November 4, 2017 5:20 PM

Forgot to post earlier, the new CP Silver (North Pole Wink), MP 35.0 appears to be in service now as seen on ATCSMon.

Bruce Kelly
Just got back from three days in Flathead Tunnel country myself. Traffic levels are astounding right now. Quite a few trains headed either direction getting re-crewed roughly mid-way through their trip in the Troy-Kootenai Falls-Libby area, as well as elsewhere. From Troy west, not much easy access for crew shuttles due to the Kootenai River Canyon until Crossport or Bonners Ferry.

Some beautiful territory that I hope to visit someday. With higher traffic levels, I'm surprised that BNSF hasn't extended a siding or two just RR east of the Pend Orielle Lake bridge to handle those 'monster' trains that they like to run. Perhaps with all of those grade crossings a second MT would be more appropriate. Even more challenges for the DS ....

EDIT: added BNSF Northern and Southern Transcon map links to my sig

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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