Large Scale Central

Real time track construction

So I didn’t think in this day and age I would ever see 1:1 track building. As railroads are shrinking it just seemed that what is there now was all if ever get to see.

But BNSF is making some major investment in North Idaho and Eastern Washington. They are laying a new bridge across Pend Orielle lake next to the old one. A major project. And right where I work they are putting in a second mainline (and caused my water district some headache as we had to abandon one of our waterlines to make room for it) which required some major excavation and road bed grading as well as a new bridge across the Spokane River.

I say all of this to say I have a new found appreciation for what it took to make the first cross country rail lines like the Northern Pacific in the 1880s. I am watching modern hi tech 2000s machinery taking years to build a few bridges and a couple miles of track. And to think they went across the entire country in just a few years has me awe struck.

But even though I am a bit disillusioned with modern construction techniques, it is still fascinating to watch a brand new rail line being built.

What is really kind of ironic is today the 1:1 railroad has adopted model railroad construction techniques. Instead of laying ties and then nailing down tie plates and then laying in rail and nailing it down and bolting rails together, they now bring in sectional prebuilt track sections and set them down and bolt them together. The entire section comes prebuilt. And they just bolt sections together.

I find that amusing and ironic. Almost as if model railroaders taught the 1:1 guys the proper way to make a railroad.

Good to see you back Devon. I appreciated the new introduction. :sunglasses:

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Are they double tracking the final section between Barker and Pines? With Barker closed again, it’s been awhile since I have been in that area.

Not in my area they weld them together like I have with my model RR (except it’s soldered brass rail in 15’ sections then bolted together) for the most part .

John they are doing just that. The new Barker round about at Trent is elevated to make an overpass over the tracks. The closed the crossing between barker and Sullivan. And the new bridge is being built over the river for the second line. And as I understand it they are separating the grade crossing at Pines.

In Idaho they are closing the crossing at Prairie, separating the crossing at pleasant view and not sure what else

The funnel is the last big section of single track on the northern transcon. Meanwhile on the southern transcon they are triple and quadruple tracking sections!

I think once the bridge is done the only single track left will be from Sandpoint to Boyer right by your Dad’s place.

PS, yep the bolt it all together and then slowly thermite weld it into bigger sticks, but most of they use 1/4 mile welded rail. So your section must be a smaller build?

I honestly can’t say Craig. Where I see the prebuilt sections is right at Kaiser Aluminum so maybe it has something to do with the turn out that leads into Kaiser that they are using it? And just east maybe 1/2 mile is the siding into the Industrial park. So maybe with what your saying these short sections are being used for the new turnouts? I am guessing because I certainly do not know.

You answered your own question. If it’s not 1/4 mile sections of tangent track with no turnouts, crossovers, etc they use the big 1/4 mile welded rail. Anytime that the 1/4 mile is cut up by turnouts the default is to just sectional track. And often times you’ll see the turnouts come pre built in sections. Fun to see a couple big CAT front end loaders move a huge turnout.

Need to find my current Trains magazine, they have an article that mentions the work BNSF is doing on their Transcons

I have been having fun watching the progress. Just not something you see everyday. And with all the fancy modern machinery doing the work it really gives one an appreciation for how it was done in the 1880s.

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