BNSF track projects, WA State 2014

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The main 3 bridge over the Coweeman River north of Longview yard is taking shape. South of the crossing at the north end of the Longview yard, ribbon rail is laid out for main 3 down to Longview Junction South. Little orange spray paint dots to indicate the centerline of the track are on the ground between the ribbon rails. Down in Kalama, more fill work and retaining wall work is needed for main 3, but it's getting closer to having a complete roadbed from Peavey down to Toteff. Switches are in place for main 3 in both of those control points. The Toteff Road crossing has been completely re-worked and it now has 4 tracks in it (storage 3 + 3 main lines). Just north of Toteff Road, the new main 3 roadbed curves VERY close to the right lane of southbound I-5. Southbound drivers are going to freak out seeing a northbound train headlight coming right at them!
 
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South of the crossing at the north of the Longview yard, ribbon rail is laid out for main 3 down to Longview Junction South. Little orange spray paint dots to indicate the centerline of the track are on the ground between the ribbon rails.
The Track Laying Machine will be there soon. They'll do some work on that project and then mobilize to Auburn mid-November to lay new Main 1 between Ellingson and Auburn North.
 
Looks like the track laying machine has been busy at Longview. The new main 3 track is now laid from the switch at Longview Junction South up to the crossing at the north end of the yard. The lights and gate on the east side of the crossing will need to be relocated. Track is not yet laid through the crossing.
 
Work on the Auburn 3rd main continues. A number of 'swingnose frog' signs are installed at CP Ellingson and the south end of Auburn Yard, and I imagine 'lift frog' signs will go up for that type of switch. I suppose the notification to train crews is necessary, but I'm not clear why. This is the first time I've actually seen these new gapless frog switches and I'm sure they're uncommon elsewhere on most of BNSF's territory.

Northbound trains are creeping through Ellingson; I passed a couple only to have the passenger trains catch up with me before I got to Auburn, so the slow order must only apply to the immediate area of that work. And I don't seem to hear much noise from the crossover switches any more; Talgo trainsets with their single axles have a unique cadence going over the switches. Some new signals are active around Ellingson too, at night it looks like there's upwards of a couple dozen signals, but I suspect my aging eyes are playing tricks on me...

Sometimes wish I had the use of a drone to see what's new along that part of the track and other areas that I won't physically trespass in. I'll have to wait for the next Google Earth update to see precisely what's changed.
 
The Track Laying Machine will be there soon. They'll do some work on that project and then mobilize to Auburn mid-November to lay new Main 1 between Ellingson and Auburn North.
Looks like the new main 1 is now laid between Ellingson and the Auburn Sounder platform. I couldn't see any farther north from my position.
 
Work on the Auburn 3rd main continues. A number of 'swingnose frog' signs are installed at CP Ellingson and the south end of Auburn Yard, and I imagine 'lift frog' signs will go up for that type of switch. I suppose the notification to train crews is necessary, but I'm not clear why. This is the first time I've actually seen these new gapless frog switches and I'm sure they're uncommon elsewhere on most of BNSF's territory.
It's actually us out here in western Washington that are just recently getting them. Turnouts with swingnose frogs have been in-use by BNSF for years. The sign at the frog is to remind crews that they must also line the frog, in addition to the switch points, when hand-lining the switch.
 
Looks like the new main 1 is now laid between Ellingson and the Auburn Sounder platform. I couldn't see any farther north from my position.
Correct, new main 1 is laid from Ellingson to the Sounder station. On Friday, the started from Auburn North working north. They will finish that segment to Thomas this week.
 
New track's got its first layer of ballast and alignment, looking like a railroad now.
Since this topic is Washington state, and not specifically Auburn, I'd like to respectfully request that you be more specific as to where, for the benefit of out-of-state railfans. I know you're talking about the new track in Auburn along the Auburn yard, because I saw the fresh ballast today. The 3rd main segment along the Longview yard does not yet have ballast, however. By only saying "new track," others, especially those out of the area, might be misled. Thanks.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
Definitely room for two tracks to the west if they want to extend the siding. I see no work to the east to have two mains that way, though. Wonder if they thought the road needs a new bridge also so they are building them both at once so no traffic is disrupted? I' checked for any road projects listed for that area and only one was for resealing a part of this State Route 500 way over near Vancouver so it looks like two single track bridges are being built. Most likely they will extend the siding farther east and just haven't got around to acquiring the land they need and constructing new subgrade. That is a new siding, as it is in Camas, and was pretty long already at 9073 feet.
 
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Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
Google aerial of the replacement work on the Washougal River bridge in Camas. Kind of hard to tell what the plan is. Two bridges?

Washougal River bridge

Bruce
Check out the street level view. https://www.google.com/maps/place/C...f925a1d038645!8m2!3d45.5870631!4d-122.3995363

Those are temporary work platforms. (Unless WA DOT has gotten so cheap they're using plywood for concrete).

I'm going to guess (and it's only a guess!) that what you're seeing is staging for building a new bridge, then sliding the new one into place while sliding the old one out of the way. The new one would be built on one of those platforms, and the old one would slide onto the other. Done right, you can swap them out over a weekend outage, maybe even less. That greatly minimizes downtime on the track.
 
I'm wondering how bridges will be built/replaced/modified on the third main project between Seattle and Tacoma. My guess is that a single-track bridge will be the preferred method as long as the existing bridge has a good service life left in it. Various river bridges are mostly steel truss and must date back to pre-WWII. Highway overpasses are more modern concrete/steel. Extending the Auburn third main further south will require bridge construction of some sort over Ellingson Rd and the White River (the truss bride). Relatively short but still a major investment, to say nothing of what'll be required in Sumner including the Puyallup River.

Probably not going to happen any time soon, though.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
Oh Sound Transit knows that it will be pricey but BNSF has told them that new bridge construction practices has driven down the price of bridges and they will built single track bridges next to the double track bridges and extend triple track all the way down to Clear Creek for ST3. The time line will be out there but by 2035 there will be hourly middle of the weekday trains and weekend trains running on that portion with longer 10 car trains.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
Check out the street level view. https://www.google.com/maps/place/C...f925a1d038645!8m2!3d45.5870631!4d-122.3995363

Those are temporary work platforms. (Unless WA DOT has gotten so cheap they're using plywood for concrete).

I'm going to guess (and it's only a guess!) that what you're seeing is staging for building a new bridge, then sliding the new one into place while sliding the old one out of the way. The new one would be built on one of those platforms, and the old one would slide onto the other. Done right, you can swap them out over a weekend outage, maybe even less. That greatly minimizes downtime on the track.
For the Mud Bay Bridge project up in B.C. they built a temporary bridge like that along the entire length of the old bridge and, using heavy cranes and other equipment, replaced the wooden trestle with steel beam supported concrete ballasted deck bridge assemblies. I can see the tracks on the bridge from some heavy equipment. Having two bridges suggest that they may use two huge cranes to lift a new bridge section into place. Makes sense now.
 
After visiting Tacoma, I stopped in Auburn (Washington) to check out the new 3rd main.
This first photo is looking south. It was taken from the south end of the platform at the Auburn Sounder Station. On the left is the old NP Auburn Yard, and the wye to head over Stampede Pass.
Looks link tamping will start soon.
3RD-11A.jpg

This photo is looking north. It was taken from the north end of the platform.
3RD-11B.jpg

This photo is looking north from the pedestrian overpass at the Sounder station. The yellow block is for Amtrak 500.
There are a lot of switch motors, I'm guessing they all have moveable point frogs.
3RD-11C.jpg

This last photo is looking south. It was taken a few miles north of Auburn, from the South 277th Street overpass.
This is CP Thomas, the north end of where the 3rd main end/begins. It looks more like a center siding.
3RD-11D.jpg

KristopherJ
 
CP Thomas looks awkward to me, even considering optical forshortening in a telescopic photo. I would have though that southboound Old Main One would directly transition into New Main Two, and New Main One would branch off via a high speed rated switch. What I see doesn't look encouraging for fast passenger trains, let alone heavy freights. This is the first photograph I've seen that shows the new CP and switches; it's almost impossible to see anything while driving by.
 
CP Thomas looks awkward to me, even considering optical forshortening in a telescopic photo. I would have though that southboound Old Main One would directly transition into New Main Two, and New Main One would branch off via a high speed rated switch. What I see doesn't look encouraging for fast passenger trains, let alone heavy freights. This is the first photograph I've seen that shows the new CP and switches; it's almost impossible to see anything while driving by.
I was thinking the same thing when I saw it, I wonder what the south end looks like? Somewhere in this thread, or some other thread, I thought somebody said all new turnouts were to be #24s. That would make the speed 50 for passenger trains. I wonder if it was done this way because eventually the 3 mains will go north to James Street and tie in with those 3 mains?

-KristopherJ
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
The idea is that the new Main Two would be for freight traffic getting out of the way of passengers and commuter trains that have to use the Main One and Main Three platforms at Auburn and back north at Tukwila, which Amtrak serves. Commuter trains would rarely use Main Two in this area so they don't have to slow down to 50 MPH for the turnouts. Time is still an issue with Sounders and any slow down means lost time when they can go 79 MPH at either end of the three main section between Thomas and Pacific. Oh, great pictures Kristopher, I haven't been down there yet. You are correct, looking at the pictures you can see the second switch machines for each duo control switch which indicates movable point frogs. Cut over is in the next few weeks...maybe.
 





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