Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BNSF engineering team completes major projects in 96-Hour window

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In just 96 hours recently, the BNSF engineering team completed several projects on the Lafayette Subdivision in Louisiana, according to the company newsletter. Considered an engineering "blitz," the team aimed to maximize track work and minimize disruption for community members, all while making sure safety was a top priority. The work window was granted from 6 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, through 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25.

BNSF engineering teams completed construction on the Bayou Boeuf Bridge near Morgan City, La., replacing the aging, 102-year-old, 693-foot bridge damaged by marine vessels with weather-resistant steel and concrete. The bridge's 150-foot center swing span was also replaced, allowing the bridge to open more quickly for marine traffic and minimizing train delay.

"The new bridge can open for boat traffic in just five minutes, as compared to up to 20 minutes in the past," said Steve Millsap, assistant vice president, Structures.

Additionally, trains were formerly limited to a 25-mph speed limit across the bridge. Now, freight trains can travel 40 mph, and passenger trains are allowed to travel at 60 mph.

Taking advantage of the 96-hour track window, the team also completed a 1,900-foot track rehabilitation and grade-crossing improvement project in New Iberia, La., about 50 miles east of the bridge. The team improved six crossings in a five-block area in the city's center, making the crossings much smoother. The team also installed 50 track panels, new ballast, 139 welds and a drainage system that will increase its reliability and allow trains to pass through the city more quickly.

"Our teams worked safely and finished the project within the planned 96-hour window, and [the results] provided the City of New Iberia with much smoother road crossing surfaces," said Dean Dalquist, general director, Line Maintenance.

In addition to these two major projects, track and turnouts were surfaced, six turnouts were replaced, walkways were restored, a second bridge was replaced, rail was laid and a culvert was repaired on the Lafayette Subdivision.

"I am extremely proud of the work of our track, signal and structures teams," Dalquist said.

The teams completed all of this work incident- and injury-free.

"All of these projects will contribute to increased velocity for traffic moving between Houston and New Orleans on the BNSF network," said Dave Freeman, vice president, Engineering. "I would like to thank all of the employees involved in the safe execution of the plan. Job well done!"

Rail traffic resumed Friday morning.

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