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Thread: Omaha's Awful Tunnel

  1. Default Omaha's Awful Tunnel

    When the Union Pacific Lane Cutoff was built in the early 1900's, they needed ways to get roads under the tracks. Since the fills were basically long trestles, they built concrete tunnels. One that was particularly hated as the vehicles got bigger, was the tunnel at 84th St. I thought I had a picture in my collection but I don't. I got a couple of pics from the county archives. The B&W's are from 1972. The color are from the 80's when a bridge was put in and the tunnel removed. I like the one with the N&W locos on the new bridge.
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    Tom Zorko
    The resale value of this car is gonna be practically nil after this trip -- WC Fields

  2. #2

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    Wow, did not realize that bridge was relatively new when we got assigned here in 83. Thanks for sharing these shots Tom.
    Ed Schopperth

  3. #3

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    Awesome Find Tom! Thanks for sharing!

    So how did they build the new bridge?

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    I lived in Omaha when the tunnel was enlarged. There was a mild winter and the construction people got the project done way ahead of schedule. But, the Omaha street crew wasn't ready, so it took awhile for 84th street to be completed. Used to watch construction from the Cracked Pot restaurant.

  5. #5

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    Nice shots!!
    Jeff
    The Trainmaster
    Port of Abilene Kansas
    Have camera, will travel :D
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Heritage units seen:
    UP 1988 7/5/11
    UP 1989 7/10/11
    UP 2010 7/19/11
    UP 1995 8/1/11
    Have all the unpatched SP AC4400CW's on video
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    MP 163.1 UP Salina Sub
    MP 58.1 BNSF Strong City Sub

  6. #6

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    Nice pics Tom.

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    There is still one of the tunnels left in Omaha. It's on 50th street. Looks just like it did back in the day.

  8. #8

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    As a Sortinos regular, I remember this.

    thanks for sharing.

  9. #9

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    I also liked the old classic cars in the photos too
    Jeff
    The Trainmaster
    Port of Abilene Kansas
    Have camera, will travel :D
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Heritage units seen:
    UP 1988 7/5/11
    UP 1989 7/10/11
    UP 2010 7/19/11
    UP 1995 8/1/11
    Have all the unpatched SP AC4400CW's on video
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    MP 163.1 UP Salina Sub
    MP 58.1 BNSF Strong City Sub

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CGW101c View Post
    When the Union Pacific Lane Cutoff was built in the early 1900's, they needed ways to get roads under the tracks. Since the fills were basically long trestles, they built concrete tunnels. One that was particularly hated as the vehicles got bigger, was the tunnel at 84th St. I thought I had a picture in my collection but I don't. I got a couple of pics from the county archives. The B&W's are from 1972. The color are from the 80's when a bridge was put in and the tunnel removed. I like the one with the N&W locos on the new bridge.
    I remember in the late 70s or maybe 1980, when they started this. The tunnel was closed when they opened the ramp on the west side. At first, north and south bound traffic had to take turns using the ramp. It was a steep ramp to the top and over the tracks and then back down and it was narrow the whole way. They had guys stationed at the base, half way and at the top, to give emotional support I guess. No safety railings. Crushed limestone rock at first. I think at some point they did put on a slim asphalt overlay. Kinda scary. I can't remember if they ever put in a ramp on the east side of the tunnel to accommodate two way traffic or just enhanced the west ramp for two way. To far back now. Haven't thought about that in awhile.

    One time (during the tunnel days) Dad and I watched two guys "slap" mirrors. There was some kind of mental disconnect in play. You had to be semi-telapathic to know if you were going to be the one to wait before entering or if the other person was going to. Some people didn't feel comfortable going two at once (it was warranted) and would hold up traffic behind them. Well, that allowed the oncoming traffic to almost be endless during rush hour, as everyone one would just take advantage of the situation. Usually it was a skittish gal that just wasn't bold enough to try or a truck that had no business being there during rush hour, if he had any manners.

    It could be done but you had to gauge the size the of two vehicles entering. There was an unspoken system that worked between the people that used it all the time but then you'd get a rookie that would "vapor lock" and balk at one end and wait to have the tunnel dedicated to them exclusively. It was best to hug the wall on your side if you were in a pickup or old school land yacht, which at that time we still had fully sized cars.

    Well anyway, a guy in a 1 ton Chevy dually with a flat bed went in one way and a guy with a Dodge Camper special in the other. Dad and I couldn't believe what we knew was going to happen. We thought and said " hey hold it, this ain't gonna work, what are you two thinking"?! As they tried to stay away from each other, the big "dumbo" mirrors they had (the kind that bolted onto the door, just below the window and on the upper window frame), scraped the walls of the tunnel and then folded back. There wasn't any stopping and backing out, they had to commit. They both had cars that followed them in but then those cars (me and Dad in the mix) slowed up, as it became obvious that this was a bad deal.

    They both leaned and ducked with arms up in front of their faces and wham! Mirror glass went all over h _ ll, we caught a little of the spray and the guys just kept on going. Well, we all did, at a snails pace but we kept going.

    What could they do at this point? Couldn't stop to trade insurance info in the middle of the tunnel. 84rth didn't have much of a shoulder to pull off on. You'd have to walk clear back through the entire length of the tunnel to talk or have a fist fight about it. Both guys just kept going and we never even saw a break light after they got out. I wish me and the old man were still on speaking terms, we used to tell that story to people and just laugh our butts off.

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