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Archive of posts filed under the Infrastructure category.

East Rail Line Update – January 2014: Part 3

This is the third and final installment of my January 2014 update of construction activities along RTD’s East Rail Line connecting Denver International Airport with Denver Union Station. See Part 1 and Part 2 using these links.

In the final approach towards Denver Union Station, we can see some of the most recognizable progress in the area. Similar to Central Park, here at the 38th & Blake station we can see the beginning of the station platform and the pedestrian crossing (below) as well as railroad ties and OCS upright poles in place.

 

Just northeast of the station, we can see the much-improved East 40th Avenue that now includes sidewalks, improved drainage, curbs and in-place railroad ties north of the street. Below are two photos taken near the recently reopened 40th Avenue and Franklin Street intersection.

 

The final stretch of rail between 38th & Blake and Denver Union Station is also starting to take shape with ties in place between 38th Avenue and 20th Street.

 

2014 should be a busy year for the East Rail Line. With most of the freight rail relocation work complete, the focus will be the development of the East Rail Line stations and the tracks between them.


Gold Line Progress – Platte River Bridge Girders

Late last month, crews placed the last girders for the Platte River Bridge, one of the most visible pieces of the Gold Line project. This bridge travels from the eastern edge of the Prospect neighborhood (just next to the Park Avenue viaduct) across the Consolidated Mainline freight tracks and the Platte River and lands just west of the Denver Police facility at Globeville Road and Park Avenue. The bridge rests about as high as the Park Avenue viaduct, providing an interesting perspective on the construction for those traveling into downtown Denver.

  

 

Crews were placing the set of girders the day of my visit. It was an awesome operation to see them place these large girders into place. Took one heck of a crane to lift them as well. 

 

 

Crews were moving quickly and working on the deck pours for the rest of the structure while the final girders were being set in place. These guys don’t waste any time. 

I had an interesting perspective of the underbelly of the Park Avenue viaduct as well. It’s amazingly clean down there…

Crews will continue work on the bridge for the next several months as the remainder of the deck is poured and other superstructure work is completed prior to track being laid sometime later this year. 


East Rail Line Update – January 2014: Part 2

This is Part 2 of our construction update journey along Denver’s East Line corridor. You can read Part 1 here.

Continuing towards Denver Union Station, the next stop on the East Rail Line is Central Park station in Stapleton. In this area, the commuter rail line is really coming to form. Here we can see the relocated freight line, upright OCS (overhead catenary system – the electricity and communication lines) poles, in-place railroad ties and, most exciting, the future station’s platforms. Below are two pictures of the foundation that will become the Central Park station.

 

East of the future Central Park station portions of Smith Road have been reopened and OCS upright poles and in-place railroad ties can be seen on either side of Quebec Street.

 

Progress at 40th & Colorado is much less noticeable; however, the work on the foundation of the station platform has begun. Also, many of the spur tracks cutting into Smith Road, east of this station, have been removed and the new 40th & York intersection, west of the station, is open and flowing much more efficiently than before.

 

In my Part 3 post, I will continue this update with the final stretch from 38th and Blake into Denver Union Station.


East Rail Line Update – January 2014: Part 1

With 2013 behind us, let’s take a look at the progress made along Denver’s East Rail Line, a 22.8-mile transit line connecting Denver International Airport with Denver Union Station in Downtown Denver. A lot of progress has been made since my last East Rail Line Update back in June and we are another step closer to never driving out to the airport again! This is the first of a three-part January 2014 update on the East Rail Line.

Progress at the Denver Airport Station is incredible as the canopy frame is in place and the 519 room hotel and conference center is looking more and more like a reality everyday. Look for a new post on the progress around DIA soon. For now, here is a series of photos that RTD recently posted showing the progress made over the past three years in this area (photos courtesy RTD).

Between Airport Station and Gateway Park you get the feeling that we are getting closer and closer to opening day, as tracks are being laid in place and overhead lines are being installed (photo below courtesy of RTD). Bridges over Newcastle Road, E-470, Tower Road, False Creek, 56th Avenue and 40th Avenue are nearing completion and will soon see concrete decks installed.

Visible progress has been made at Gateway Park; the first station south of DIA along the East Rail Line. Here, the elevated East Rail Line will connect to the existing Gateway Park (aka 40th & Airport Boulevard) Park and Ride. Below are some pictures of the new rail platform under construction.

 

Immediately after this station, the East Rail Line continues over the expansive 4,985 foot long I-70 Flyover Bridge which is nearing completion.

 

 

Here’s one more photo of the I-70 Flyover Bridge under construction courtesy of RTD.

Wast of the Flyover Bridge is a long straightaway where the East Rail Line trains will reach their maximum speeds. In this area, we can see both tracks and OCS upright poles in place. Thanks to RTD for these photos showing the crews installing the tracks in this area.

The final segment of the East Rail Line that I will discuss today is near the intersection of Peoria Road and Smith Road. At this intersection, Peoria Road will be rerouted over Smith Road, the East Rail Line, freight tracks, as well as the terminus of the I-225 Rail Line, replacing a busy at-grade intersection. In the photo below, you can see the Peoria Street bridge under construction.

In my next post, we will continue west along the East Rail Line towards Denver Union Station.


FasTracks Progress – Union Station Bus Complex

Time to take a look at the brand new 22-bay bus terminal at Union Station, which is set to open on May 9, 2014.

For those that don’t know, the new Union Station Bus Complex will replace the existing Market Street Station at 16th and Market Streets when it opens its doors next May. The new station is situated along the 17th Street axis and spans essentially the entire length between the western face of the historic Union Station building (soon to be the Crawford Hotel) and the Consolidated Mainline (CML) tracks.

There will be multiple entrances into the bus station – we’ve got escalators, elevators, and stairs on either end of the station, as well as other stairwells in between. As you can see in the pictures below,

  

The wayfinding signage in the station has been installed and is really clear and easy to read – much better than the wayfinding signage at Market Street Station (does it even have any)?

The bus complex looks more like an airport terminal to me than a bus station, at least right now. It’s wide, spacious, and the skylights above do a great job letting natural light down and into the station – also a HUGE improvement over the bunker that is Market Street Station. Speaking of the skylights, some Darwin Award hopefuls have been grinding down the lights on their skateboards and have broken one of the windows in the process. Luckily, the glass is tempered and didn’t fall into the station. RTD is fixing this and will ensure that doesn’t happen anymore. Additional security patrols are also in place. 

  

The floors of the station have a cool terrazzo flooring, which RTD says will hold up well to the glut of passengers expected to utilize the station. It’s simple in terms of design, but helps delineate static and dynamic areas within the station. 

 

A 22-bay bus station obviously has its fair share of diesel exhaust. To clear the air, RTD has installed MASSIVE vacuums to help suck the dirty air out of the bus concourse. The picture is a little misleading. The vacuums are so large, I couldn’t even get the whole thing in one picture.

For those of you familiar with the Market Street, you’ve certainly seen the dispatcher kiosk that greets all the incoming buses. At Market Street, it seems like an afterthought and is crammed into the corner of the station. The is certainly not the case the new station – dispatchers essentially have the entire western end of the terminal to themselves. 

There is no doubt that this massive bus concourse is a HUGE improvement over the current situation at the Market Street Station. It’s bright, airy, spacious, and will certainly be able to handle service demand levels well into the future. As I mentioned before, the station opens May 9, 2014 – only 142 days away!