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West Rail Line Progress – Indiana Bridge

Time to take a look at the massive Indiana Bridge over 6th Avenue! Only 6 DAYS until opening!

This bridge is MASSIVE. We’ve taken a look at the bridge before in this DenverInfill post, but it’s time for a final update.

This bridge is located in the single-track section of the West Rail Line on the approach to the Jefferson County Government Center/City of Golden Station. The trains will be running east and west intermittently along these tracks once the corridor opens next week.

 

The bridge is made of both concrete and steel and is the longest bridge on the corridor, spanning 1,531 feet. The 11-span bridge uses three independent construction frames – the first and third (those spanning the onramps) use a post-tensioned concrete box girder system while the middle span uses three steel plate girders. The center span over 6th Avenue is the longest single span in the corridor, reaching 270 feet. Notice the lack of ballast (rocks) on the bridge – this is done to make the bridge lighter. The tracks are directly fixed to the concrete. This bridge is only 20 feet wide.

 

  

 

The tallest columns are over 40 feet high, which allows for future construction of a ramp between 6th Avenue to I-70. Like the 6th Avenue Bridge, the Indiana Bridge uses the same “weathering steel” which will rust to a dark purple/brown color.  The 7.2 million pound bridge took 48,000 cubic feet of concrete and 128,000 feet of steel post-tensioning strand to complete. The steel in the frame weighs over 890,000 pounds – that’s 445 tons!!

  

This bridge is high above 6th and even higher above Indiana Avenue. If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to close your eyes as you travel across the bridge.

  

This bridge features a unique construction method. There are rubber ties at either end of the bridge. Of to 40,000 or so railroad ties along the new West Rail Line, about 200 of them are made of recycled rubber. These ties are being tested to see whether they will help spread the weight of the light rail trains out to avoid compaction and settling at the ends of bridges. For more information on these recycled rubber ties, check out this Denver Post article.

  

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the Jefferson County Government Center/City of Golden Station, the end of the West Rail Line.

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6 Comments

  1. Brennan Walter says:

    Thanks for the update on the bridge! So excited to come visit and ride across it next Friday! Just a quick question: Do you know the operational speed of the trains over the bridge? There was a video of a train running along most of the route, but at the time that was shot, there appeared to be crews doing some sort of work on the bridge so the train was running in a reduced-speed zone. I presume they’re not going to be blazing across at 55 mph but I’d hope it won’t be the 15 mph that the train was doing in the video preview!

    Thank you!!

    • Ryan Mulligan says:

      Sorry, but I don’t know the operational speed over the bridge – they do slow down some, but not too much. I’d guess somewhere in the 30-35 mph range.

  2. chachafish says:

    Nice update. Thanks :)

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I REALLY appreciate all of your posts over the last couple of years (at least!). They were great. I’m in BC, Canada now, but consider Denver my USA ‘home’. And I worked on the FasTracks campaign in 2004.
    I have 1 question: I know they needed to save money and so only made the 1 track from Cold Spring P/Ride. Did they make allowances, so that someday they can add the second track? Thanks again.

    • Ryan Mulligan says:

      Thanks for your kind words Joe!

      By allowances, do you mean design the corridor so that a second track could be installed? If that’s the case, then it’s a yes and no answer. Yes in that the tunnel beneath I-70 is built wide enough for 2 tracks, but not in that the bridges aren’t. It’d take some work to add a second track, but it’s not totally out of the question. RTD believes the bulk of ridership on this corridor will be dispersing or originating at the Federal Center Station, hence why the section to the Jeffco Courthouse could be single tracked. Plus, 15 minute headways ain’t too shabby.

      So long answer, but the answer is ‘kind of.’ Adding that second track is something that may considered in the future.

  4. Joe says:

    Thanks again for your reply, Ryan.

    There must already be right-of-way along the 6th Ave. freeway for the 2nd track, so they’d just need to widen or build a 2nd long bridge over 6th & Indiana. Let’s hope for the demand from Jeffco. Govt. Center in the future.