Burlington to Anacortes access /Mount Vernon, WA Siding Improvement Work

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BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#1
Here are some shots from my trip to Mount Vernon and Burlington, WA on Saturday March 7th. I know some work had gone on up there but I had not been to the area for over a year.

1. Here is a Loaded Oil train headed to Fildago on the Anacortes Branch. This is at West Stackpole Rd. which will get crossing gates and lights shortly to protect this crossing more thoroughly.

2. In the distance is the location of the new switch for the longer Mt Vernon Siding. It will be an additional 4100 feet making it a total length of about 10,175 feet of which 8000 or so is usable due to a crossing near the north end.

3. Looking north from Hickox Rd. you can see the subgrade all the way up to the present switch at the south side of the Mount Vernon siding.

4. Looking south you can see the new signals in addition to the subgrade and new access road on the left for the bungalow. The Hickox Rd. crossing can not be closed (except for emergencies) until the turnaround cul de sacs are built so this siding extention is on hold until that is accomplished.

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BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#2
Burlington to Anacortes access /Mount Vernon, WA Siding Improvement Work Part II

5. This is the movable frog switch that will go in later.

6. The switch is a #20 which is good for 35 - 40 MPH. I imagine that they will go with either 30 or 35 MPH. Currently, Mount Vernon siding's speed is only 20MPH. I did not check to see if they are putting in a new switch at the north end but they probably are. Sorry for not checking.

7. The south bound control signals.

8. The north bound control signal and bungalow with PTC radio antenna.

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BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#3
Burlington to Anacortes access /Mount Vernon, WA Siding Improvement Work Part III

9. Looking south from Green Leaf Ave. in Burlington, WA. From the left is the Sumas branch line from Sumas, the mainline from Vancouver, B.C. and the Anacortes Branch line from Fidalgo. They moved the two signals on the left 50 feet north and installed the block signal on the right to control access to the mainline or to the Burlington Yard.

10. Looking north from behind the signals you can see the two signs for type of operation. The R on the left for Restricted limits for the Anacortes Branch line which goes out far enough (.6 miles) that the yard can be switched without getting a Track Warrant by the local crews. They raised the speed from 10 MPH to not to exceed 20 MPH.

11. The drill signal used by the local crews to allow switching across the CTC section of track. The line to right of the drawf is the new connecting track from the main which is good for at least 20 MPH.

12. A southbound manifest train from Canada, probably the VBTEVE. I didn't look it up to be sure. The new connecting track switch is under the engines. By the way, these images are the first ones I've posted using my new Nikon D3200. Hope they look good enough.

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BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#6
Yes. It saves on switch maintenance so the track isn't out of service so often. That's what is being done on all of the switches being replaced on the Seattle Sub.
 
#7
I don't think moving point switches were installed in my part of King County, but I'd have to trespass quite a bit to determine that for certain--crossovers still sound noisy. I see crews at the crossovers by Ellingson Rd on a fairly regular basis. Certainly could use them with the heavy freight and (relatively) fast passenger service. Does the rail really pivot or is it 'warped' to the diverging route?

I can understand that they'd be doing this sort of investment now on that line because of the frequent coal and crude traffic--that track's taking a pounding.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#9
All the movable frogs have a switch machine electrically tied into the point switch machine so they both operate at the same time and the frog switches from straight to diverging without a gap between the rails so it's quiet and no frog welding to do after being banged by wheels thousands of times. They are not replacing any switches north of Nisqually, that I know of, on the Seattle Sub but when they are putting in new switches they will be movable frog switches on mainlines. Yeah, those crossovers in King county will continue to be noisy.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#11
Thank you, Bill. And thank you for all of the pictures you have published!
Thanks. The switch at MP 18 in Edmonds has been a maintenance nightmare for years. Is it scheduled to be replaced with one with a moveable frog, seeing as how double tracking may be years down the (main) line?
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#12
Thanks. The switch at MP 18 in Edmonds has been a maintenance nightmare for years. Is it scheduled to be replaced with one with a moveable frog, seeing as how double tracking may be years down the (main) line?
There is hope it will be double tracked next year or the year after. Keep tuned to the Railway Age or Progressive Railroading websites. I wished they had spent some money 13 years ago and put in a #24 switch at MP 16 and MP 18 then our trains would have been much faster and less wear on the frog even if it was temporary. By the way, there will be a double crossover just south of Dayton Street when the second track is put in and I 'm sure they will have movable frog switches installed.
 
#13
I'd argue that very slide-prone area near Everett ought to get higher priority, since those slides happen at least a dozen times a year. Though the entire line down to almost Seattle is slide-prone. I suppose it's been this way since the line was originally built...
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#14
I'd argue that very slide-prone area near Everett ought to get higher priority, since those slides happen at least a dozen times a year. Though the entire line down to almost Seattle is slide-prone. I suppose it's been this way since the line was originally built...
A very good friend of mine is a retired geologist who did a geological survey of the mainline between Seattle and Everett for the Great Northern back in the 1950's. The entire area is slide prone and there is really nothing that can be done about it. Double-tracking the few remaining miles of single track won't change anything other than two tracks will be covered instead of just one when the inevitable slides occur.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#15
A very good friend of mine is a retired geologist who did a geological survey of the mainline between Seattle and Everett for the Great Northern back in the 1950's. The entire area is slide prone and there is really nothing that can be done about it. Double-tracking the few remaining miles of single track won't change anything other than two tracks will be covered instead of just one when the inevitable slides occur.
That sounds about right. They need to move the tracks out 100 feet into the sound. That will help for a while.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#16
That sounds about right. They need to move the tracks out 100 feet into the sound. That will help for a while.
That is exactly what GN did many years ago to much of the one-mile stretch of track between MP 16 and MP 17, which in effect created a causeway. I read that it was called the Million Dollar Mile to reflect its construction co$t$. Remnants of the old mainline can still be seen at the very bottom of the bluff.

A town meeting was recently held in Edmonds to discuss the daylighting of Willow Creek, which runs through the Edmonds marsh and is currently piped under the marina. The consulting firm giving the presentation quoted BNSF as saying that the construction of a third mainline through Edmonds is many years away. That brought a gasp from the audience, as most of us were unaware of plans for a third track. I had to chuckle, as no one is sure when the second track will be laid. A sizable portion of the Edmonds marina along Admiralty Way is railroad property that is leased by the city.
 
#17
Sounds to me like that was a (deliberate?) misunderstanding based on an assumption that the entire line is already double track, which of course it isn't in some locations. Why would there be a third track at all--there's literally no room for one!

My vague understanding about the slide area up near Everett was going to be handled with a major retaining wall and slope stabilization measures like better drainage. We have similar problems in Auburn along Highway 18 that were handled in this fashion. When Highway 18 was finally made a divided highway east of Auburn and the Green River, the hillside immediately responded by slipping the entire new westbound lane almost onto the original highway lane. A lot of work was done on the hillside and a massive retaining wall was built. It's still holding (knocking on simulated woodgrain), but the Everett slide area may be a bigger challenge.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#18
Sounds to me like that was a (deliberate?) misunderstanding based on an assumption that the entire line is already double track, which of course it isn't in some locations. Why would there be a third track at all--there's literally no room for one!

My vague understanding about the slide area up near Everett was going to be handled with a major retaining wall and slope stabilization measures like better drainage. We have similar problems in Auburn along Highway 18 that were handled in this fashion. When Highway 18 was finally made a divided highway east of Auburn and the Green River, the hillside immediately responded by slipping the entire new westbound lane almost onto the original highway lane. A lot of work was done on the hillside and a massive retaining wall was built. It's still holding (knocking on simulated woodgrain), but the Everett slide area may be a bigger challenge.
Originally, it was planned for a third mainline all along if we were to run reverse commute trains. We all knew that it would require building into the Sound but that permit process was shot down by the government due to concerns about fishes. They know that fingerling salmon stay along the shoreline and major work would disturb the fish and hence cut into the salmon population. Eventually, we will have to go to three mains based on traffic but will probably have to build as much as we can into the hillsides. We hope that maybe next year they will start the process to double track the two single sections. They have to build at least one new crossover in each section first so they are not single track for many miles when they cut the north or south end of the current double track sections. This would be done by putting in Mosher at MP 24.5 and Richmond Beach at MP 14.2. The other two crossovers at Edmonds (south of Dayton Street) or the double crossover at Howard Park can be done later with Edmonds first then Howard Park which technically already has two crossovers one at Howard and the other leg at Everett Jct.
 


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