Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Station repairs planned in Fredericksburg, Va.

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Renovations to the Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express train station in Fredericksburg, Va., are planned to begin in spring 2010, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reports. Federal funds set aside by Virginia 1st District Rep. Jo Ann Davis before her death in 2007 are waiting to be applied to the project. It will improve the appearance and structure of the railroad overpasses that cross Caroline and Princess Anne streets.

 

Until then, the city tries to keep the station clean and make cosmetic repairs, said Matt Kelly, a Fredericksburg city councilman who sits on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. But the city can do nothing about the warped concrete facade of the station's bridges, he said, which belong to railroad company CSX Transportation. Pieces have chipped off the sides and underbelly and fallen to the road and sidewalk below.

 

"It's a drainage issue," Kelly said.

 

The station is built like a viaduct, with ballast and train tracks laid into it. There is no single central draining point for water. Over the years, the drainage system has become clogged. Trapped water freezes and thaws, damaging the concrete. The station was built in 1910.

 

Virginia Railway Express is managing the renovation. There is $2.6 million to fix the station's structural issues. VRE hired an engineering firm in 2007 for $50,000 to develop a list of needed repairs at the station. The firm determined the elevated tracks were safe to carry trains, but they still needed an overhaul. In August 2008, the VRE Operations Board approved a contract with STV/RWA Rail Design for $134,800, with construction work originally scheduled to begin in spring or summer 2009. Construction has been pushed back to spring 2010.

 

The design plans are 60 percent complete, said Mark Roeber, a VRE spokesman. VRE is waiting for CSXT to return the 60 percent design with comment. After VRE receives it, a final design can be drawn, incorporating the company's comments. Construction work could begin in January or February, but because of the cold outdoor temperature then, the work will likely have to wait until spring, Roeber said.

 

The Fredericksburg station is owned and managed by overlapping entities. CSXT owns the railroad tracks, ballast and the overpasses carrying the tracks, while Amtrak, VRE and the city of Fredericksburg maintain small sections of the station and platform as part of operating agreements.

 

Fixing the drainage will be expensive, and there is money to repair only the Caroline and Princess Anne street overpasses, said Fredericksburg senior planner Erik Nelson. Fixing the overpasses over Charles and Sophia streets will require additional funding, Nelson said.

 

"They have to take out all the bad concrete in the designated area and clean up the rebar and, in some instances, even replace the rebar and then put back clean concrete," Nelson said.

 

It won't be the first facelift the station has received. When VRE began service in the early 1990s, the city invested around $1 million to improve the station's conditions and make the train platforms handicapped accessible, Nelson said.

 

Also, the city cleaned and restored moldy shelters that were overhanging track platforms. Rather than ripping them all down, the city chose to preserve some shelters for historic reasons, he said. Also, VRE continues to upgrade the station, such as changing the position of signs when it began using double-decker passenger cars, Nelson said. Until then, the city tries to keep the station clean and make cosmetic repairs, said Matt Kelly, a Fredericksburg city councilman who sits on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. But the city can do nothing about the warped concrete facade of the station's bridges, he said, which belong to railroad company CSX Transportation. Pieces have chipped off the sides and underbelly and fallen to the road and sidewalk below.

 

"It's a drainage issue," Kelly said. 

 

The station is built like a viaduct, with ballast and train tracks laid into it. There is no single central draining point for water. Over the years, the drainage system has become clogged. Trapped water freezes and thaws, damaging the concrete. The station was built in 1910.

 

Virginia Railway Express is managing the renovation. There is $2.6 million to fix the station's structural issues. VRE hired an engineering firm in 2007 for $50,000 to develop a list of needed repairs at the station. The firm determined the elevated tracks were safe to carry trains, but they still needed an overhaul. In August 2008, the VRE Operations Board approved a contract with STV/RWA Rail Design for $134,800, with construction work originally scheduled to begin in spring or summer 2009. Construction has been pushed back to spring 2010.

 

The design plans are 60 percent complete, said Mark Roeber, a VRE spokesman. VRE is waiting for CSXT to return the 60 percent design with comment. After VRE receives it, a final design can be drawn, incorporating the company's comments. Construction work could begin in January or February, but because of the cold outdoor temperature then, the work will likely have to wait until spring, Roeber said.

 

The Fredericksburg station is owned and managed by overlapping entities. CSXT owns the railroad tracks, ballast and the overpasses carrying the tracks, while Amtrak, VRE and the city of Fredericksburg maintain small sections of the station and platform as part of operating agreements.

 

Fixing the drainage will be expensive, and there is money to repair only the Caroline and Princess Anne street overpasses, said Fredericksburg senior planner Erik Nelson. Fixing the overpasses over Charles and Sophia streets will require additional funding, Nelson said.

 

"They have to take out all the bad concrete in the designated area and clean up the rebar and, in some instances, even replace the rebar and then put back clean concrete," Nelson said.

 

It won't be the first facelift the station has received. When VRE began service in the early 1990s, the city invested around $1 million to improve the station's conditions and make the train platforms handicapped accessible, Nelson said.

 

Also, the city cleaned and restored moldy shelters that were overhanging track platforms. Rather than ripping them all down, the city chose to preserve some shelters for historic reasons, he said. Also, VRE continues to upgrade the station, such as changing the position of signs when it began using double-decker passenger cars, Nelson said.
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