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Monday, May 10, 2010

BNSF upgrading Wyoming tracks

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BNSF plans to spend $84 million on track improvements in Wyoming this year, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Major projects will include rail, tie and surfacing work, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

On the Campbell subdivision east of Gillette, crews will install 7,000 new concrete ties. Some rail and ballast work also will be performed. The line serves coal mines near Gillette.

"The bulk of the work will occur later this May and through June," Melonas said.

On the "joint line," operated by BNSF and Union Pacific, 94,160 lineal feet of rail will be replaced. Work underneath tracks will be performed on 18.2 miles and shoulder and ballast work on 221 miles of tracks. Track resurfacing also is planned, along with improvements at turnarounds - where tracks branch off the main line - and some bridge work.

In addition, welding upgrades will be performed on the joint line. Rail joints will be eliminated to form continuous welded rail. "That makes a seamless, smoother, more efficient operation," Melonas said.

The joint line is a major railroad artery for hauling coal from the Powder River Basin.

South of Bill, Melonas said BNSF plans to spend $8 million widening track centers between each of the four tracks to improve clearances. The work is scheduled for August and September. Crossover improvements also will be made.

A variety of upgrades will be accomplished at other locations across BNSF's Wyoming system, Melonas added.

Earlier, BNSF announced a $2.4 billion capital commitment program in 2010. About $2.1 billion was projected for track, signal systems, structures, freight cars and technology upgrades.

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