Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Update (November 17, 2009) on the CSX RF&P third-track extension


Work continues apace in Alexandria to extend Track 1 south from AF (CFP104) on the CSX RF&P Subdivision to CFP98, where Track 1 ends by tying into Track 2. I am now monitoring progress at four locations between these points: Franconia Hill north of the Franconia Road highway overpass; the new Fleet signals south of that overpass; the south end of Track 1 where the Franconia-Springfield Parkway crosses above the railroad; and at approximately CFP105, where the RF&P crosses above NS as it approaches the Cameron Run signals.

In the latter case, a huge crane has been assembled for moving the trestles. One, I understand, is to be replaced with a new, two-tracks-wide trestle, which must be assembled on site. This phase, however, is huge and won't be completed until next spring. For a good overview of this project, see the article at http://tinyurl.com/yfsmfah. Now, the photo update:

1. Track work north of Franconia Road near the FRANCONIA signals. If you review my previous post (November 5) on this site, you'll notice wayside signals adjacent to this long-standing signal bridge. I thought they were replacing the bridge. It turns out the wayside signals were temporary and have now been removed. This signal bridge, however, while back in service, now sports signal heads only for southbounds:

2. Track work south of Franconia Road at the new FLEET intermediate signals. When I was there November 17 it displayed approach limited (yellow over green), but the green signals were constantly flashing, something I've never seen before. This signal bridge is for northbounds only:

Looking south from the FLEET signal bridge:

Still looking south, this time with the FLEET bridge included:

The taggers didn't waste any time, did they? Has anyone ever seen these characters in action? Do they work after dark? The cops regularly nab us "terrorist" railfans, but they never seem to nail these clowns:

This shot looks toward the railroad from inside the Fleet Industrial Park (named for Fleet Road), where tracks once led out to a switch on the main. The steel I-beams are being driven into the ground to shore up a hillside next to the new third track:

Looking north toward the FLEET signals:

The new track is being assembled in pieces here and there. Let's hope they all fit one day ;-)

High-railer guy rolls in to check something south of the FLEET signal bridge:

Looking south from the industrial park with a long lens. Interesting that CSX is using concrete ties for 100% of this project:

Building up that embankment with those steel I-beams:

3. New cantilever signals for the south end of extended Track 1 (CFP98). This is a few feet north of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. The signal controls southbound movements. There's another signal south of the parkway for northbounds, where Track 1 ties back into Track 2:

Looking south at the end of Track 1 and the new wayside signal controlling the turnout. In the background is the Franconia-Springfield Metro and VRE transportation center. On this visit I was not able to enter the station for a view of the "business end" of the signal, so I can't say for sure if it's illuminated. However, you can plainly see its head is turned toward oncoming trains, so presumably it's lit:

Amtrak P094 breezes by the new turnout:

4. Trestle replacement ~CFP103, where CSX's RF&P Sub crosses above NS's Washington Sub near CR Tower. The following aerial photograph, which shows the current work area, is 2-3 years old and was obtained from http://www.bing.com/. The track at the top is NS's "horn track," connecting CSX (Seminary signal) with the NS main line at CR Tower:

On November 6 I paid my first visit to this site. First, here's a view looking compass east/railroad north while standing next to the NS Washington Sub. The CR Tower signal bungalow is ahead to the left, and the horn track can be seen branching off to the left. The CSX trestles are straight ahead:

Looking compass west/railroad south at CR Tower (for orientation):

As of November 6, little had been done other than to construct a firm base of crushed stone on which the crane could be placed. The rock base is directly in front of the center support of the trestles:

Now, here's the scene as of November 17. The mammoth crane has now been assembled:

Coming off the horn track, VRE 325 rushes through the site at 1335, right on schedule:

And minutes later, CSX Q171 crosses above on its way south:

That's all for now. I'll provide further updates as things change . . .

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Update (November 5, 2009) on the CSX RF&P third-track extension


Last August on this blog I reported on work underway on the third-track extension of CSX's RF&P Subdivision (from CFP104, the current end of the three-track line, to CFP 98) in Alexandria. That report is still available at the bottom of this blog. Now, here's an update showing progress at two locations (Franconia Hill--marked "1" in the map above--and at the Franconia-Springfield Parkway, marked "2") as of November 5.

The photo below was taken from the Franconia Road highway overpass, looking north. Apparently work has been completed on the ballast, and now two lengths of ribbon rail have been dropped--although it escapes me why one rail is between the two tracks and the other is on the outside of track 2. Indications are that the track 1 extension will go where track 2 is today, while track 2 will be shoved left, closer to track 3. (Track order, from left to right, is 3, 2, and eventually 1). Incidentally, since my August report, Dominion Virginia Power has begun replacing the old four-legged towers along the railroad's right of way with monopole towers.

As a Metro train races north, Q409 grinds south to the summit of Franconia Hill:

A telephoto view of the roadbed work as Q409 rolls past. The picture reveals two more things: The erection and activation of wayside signals--note the signal bridge's heads have been turned--and the remaining four-legged electricity towers beyond the signal bridge:

An open view of work completed so far on the right of way:

The base of one of the new monopole high-tension towers--less aethestically pleasing than the four-legged towers, in this writer's opinion:

We now move a few blocks south of the Franconia Road highway overpass, where a large construction crew has been working for months to shave off the hillside to the right to make room for the new track. The steel I-beams will be pile-driven against the cut to provide support. Fleet Street runs along the top of the hillside to the right:

Loaded coal train U306 rumbles by the work site:

The huge I-beams. (For scale, I propped up my scanner on one of them.) They must be expecting a 7.9 earthquake:

The construction site as viewed from inside the Fleet Industrial Park. Note the industrial lead, severed last summer when work began:

Now let's move to location #2 on the map. This view looks down from the highway overpass where the Franconia-Springfield Parkway crosses above the RF&P. U306 has come to a halt because Q409 is ahead of them attempting to set off a bad-order car. It was my good luck to arrive just as concrete ties were being dropped into place for the new track. The cantilevered signal bridge, of course, is not yet in service:

Photography here is not made easy by this extravagant chain-link fence along the sidewalk above the railroad, identical to the one on the former US1 bridge over Pot Yard. The construction crew is working to the right of the Metro tracks:

Amtrak #94 rips through the work area northbound for a station stop in Alexandria as U306 sits and waits:

In the short time I spent at this location, the crew laid concrete ties all the way to the left of the signal bridge. The actual end of the new track will be only a few feet farther, just south of the highway overpass, where a new switch has been installed. Stenciled on the side of the signal control shanty is "Franconia Remote CFP 98.09":

A lone worker taps ties into place:

Now, all we need to do is attach that ribbon rail!
Stay tuned for future reports on this interesting CSX project . . .