East Rail Line Progress – Ballasted Track!!

A very quick post with some very exciting news!

East Rail Line crews have begun laying the first sections of ballasted track! This section is just east of Sand Creek and the Central Park Boulevard bridge in Stapleton. You can get a great look at it as your drive across the new Central Park bridge – just take a look to the east as you go over the train tracks. Thanks to our friends at RTD for this picture!

This is a great sign of progress for the project! Additional ballasted track will be laid in the coming weeks out along Peña Boulevard, but it won’t be as visible as this segment. Check DenverUrbanism often for East Rail Line and other FasTracks corridor updates from both Robert Wilson and myself in the coming weeks!

By | 2013-05-17T10:11:44+00:00 May 17, 2013|Categories: Infrastructure, Transit, Transportation|Tags: , , |7 Comments


  1. mckillio May 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for the update. I must admit, my knowledge on rail road technology is limited at best and I had to look up what track ballast is. From what I read it seemed that the tracks are laid on top of the ballast but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this photo. I would love some more info on this topic, maybe even a dedicated article on rail road car and track construction.

    • Nathanael July 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

      OK. So the tracks are tied to, uh, “ties”, also known as sleepers — these used to be big beams of wood, but are now usually made of concrete. The tracks are now attached to the “ties” with “clips” (formerly with “spikes”).

      The purpose of the ties is to keep the two rails at the correct distance apart from each other, in the right place, and to keep the rails facing upwards.

      Now, what keeps the ties in place? Well, first of all they’re set on top of a pile of rocks, and then more rocks are poured between them and around them, so that they can’t move in any direction due to all the rocks. (It’s sort of like the way rocks are used to support river edges or shorelines.) These rocks are called “ballast”. So there is both “underballast” under the ties and “top ballast” which is between and around the ties.

  2. Joe May 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for the update!

  3. Jadtechnic May 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

    this is great !

  4. TakeFive May 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Why do I get the feeling that the East line is going lickety-split? Especially when comparing this to 5-6 years of construction on the West line that didn’t lay any track until like year four, it just seems that they are going twice as fast on this line.

    • TakeFive May 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      By way of follow-up I found some good information via Denver Transit Partners.
      * “Construction of the project is 16% completed.”
      * “Overall project completion is 35%”
      * Over 900 workers are on the job
      Undated and a bit confusing but I assume it’s recent and is for the whole P3 project. It might be fun to check in 6 months and a year to see the pace of change.

      I also found a flow chart which shows that the East Line will be finished with construction by the end of 2015. But “testing and commissioning” is to start as early as the end of 2014 and continue through 2015 and into 2016 when they open.

      They also mention that half of the 50 train cars are done.

    • Nathanael July 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

      The West line runs parallel to a river and there was a hell of a lot of early drainage work which wasn’t very visible. The East line doesn’t have that characteristic.

Comments are closed.