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.
EAGLE Project teams have dismantled the pedestrian bridge at 43rd and Fox Streets to make way for the Gold Line/Northwest Electrified Segment tracks heading north out of downtown Denver, and thanks to our friends at RTD, we have some pictures.
For those who aren’t familiar with this part of town, here’s a quick map showing the (now former) bridge’s location. It’s just north of the future 41/Fox Station and the Park Avenue/38th Avenue/I-25 interchange.
The bridge (as you can see in the pictures below) was an old wooden structure. There was no Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance to speak of – even the landings on either side of the bridge were dirt. The stairwells were tight and awkward to maneuver. Plenty of garbage left behind signs of people who hung out at the bridge a little too long and used it for other things than just crossing the tracks. Both neighborhoods deserved a better bridge.
The eastern support for the bridge was directly in the way of the guideway for every commuter rail corridor RTD is building as part of FasTracks. Every train will use the tracks through this area to access the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF), located at 48th Avenue and Fox Street. If this bridge wasn’t moved, the tracks would have to move. Moving the bridge was easier.
The bridge was located immediately south of theJersey Cutoff Bridge, which we covered in August of last year. You can see it in the background in the picture below.
Crews made quick work of the bridge. The railroads held their cars for a portion of the day, clearing a path for a large crane to come and help lift section of the bridge up and out of the way.
Crews then started dismantling the landings with the help of an excavator.
The 43rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge will be replaced by a pedestrian bridge two blocks south at the future 41/Fox Station, which opens in 2016. This is shown as a second red line on the map above. A temporary (albeit somewhat cumbersome) detour has been installed by RTD which takes you south to 38th, under the tracks, and back north to 43rd Ave.
The bridge offered some awesome views of downtown as well as provided access from the Sunnyside neighborhood to the Globeville neighborhood. Don’t fret photo lovers! The new bridge will have views just as good as this older one – and we will have a safer option to marvel at them on.
Exciting news courtesy of our friends at RTD as they announce that the first 10 railcars which will run along the East, Gold, Northwest Electrified Segment, and North Metro Rail Lines have arrived at the Hyundai-Rotem plant in Philadelphia from South Korea. For more information on the cars (including why the shells were made in South Korea) check out our blog post from this past May.
For more information on the railcars, check out the Denver Transit Partners’ (DTP) website. DTP is RTD’s concessionaire for the EAGLE Project and will be the operator of all three EAGLE Project corridors once complete in 2016.
The cars will be fully completed in Philadelphia prior to being shipped to Denver sometime late next year for testing and eventual operation! This is a really exciting development as we await a new transportation mode choice throughout the Denver metro area!
It may seem hard to believe, the $2 billion EAGLE Project is 50% complete. RTD and its partners had a ceremony yesterday morning to mark the halfway point in the project which featuring multiple speakers, including US Representative Ed Perlmutter, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally, Adams County Commissioner Eva Henry, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Regional Administrator Linda Gehrke, DTP Director Greg Amparano, and RTD GM Phil Washington.
Every speaker spoke of the importance of regional cooperation and how integral the decades spent developing relationships and coordination directly lead to a regional take on a mega-project such as FasTracks. Combined with the relative brevity of everyone’s speeches, it was nice to see the representatives thanking each other and talking of how their respective jurisdictions have worked well together, and not just beating their own chests or tooting their own horns over their individual contributions to the project.
The event was held just behind the Denver Police Department facility at Park Avenue and Globeville Road, site of the Gold Line and Northwest Electrified Segment’s approach into downtown Denver, prior to crossing the South Platte River bridge. As you can see in the pictures above, the skyline provided the perfect backdrop.
Only three more (short) years until the project is complete!!
Crews have begun work on the Gold Line’s end-of-line station near Ward Road in Wheat Ridge, serving as evidence of the construction that will soon be widespread along the 11 mile commuter rail corridor. The corridor is being built as part of the $2 billion EAGLE Project along with the East Rail Line, Northwest Electrified Segment, and Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF).
The Ward Road Station will be located due west of Tabor Street just north of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) alignment. For those who remember the old Jolly Rancher plant along Ward Road, the station and associated parking will be located just to the south and east of the former candy factory site. The parking lot will be located on the site of a former RV and boat storage facility.
As part of the station construction, West 50th Avenue will be constructed to connect Ward Road to the Tabor Street/Ridge Road intersection (which will also be realigned for safety reasons and reconstructed).
Crews have been working on the station platform for the better part of two months now. There’s work on retaining walls a little further east near the Arvada Ridge Station as well, which we will take a look at in a future blog post. There’s a lot of storm water mitigation and streetscape work to be complete as part of the station construction as well.
This station and associated Park-n-Ride will replace the existing Ward Road Park-n-Ride located at about I-70 and Ward Road. There will be 200 spaces available on opening day, with plans for upwards of 700 in the future, based on demand. Construction will soon become widespread along the entirety of the Gold Line corridor. For those who live out that way or would like to be kept up to date as to construction alerts, closures, and other updates, sign up with RTD here.
RTD has shared the first video of their new electric multiple unit (EMU) commuter rail vehicles moving under their own power at the Hyundai Rotem plant in South Korea! The first four cars are being fully assembled for testing before being disassembled and shipped with the other 52 EMU vehicles for final assembly in Philadelphia.
Inevitably (and understandably so), questions are raised as to why the shells for the trains are being made somewhere other than the United States. In response, RTD has stated this:
“There are no U.S.-owned builder of electric commuter rail cars. However, Hyundai Rotem also will be assembling these cars in the United States with home-grown parts and labor. After the steel shells are fabricated in Korea, they are being shipped to Hyundai’s assembly plant in Philadelphia for the rest of the work. They comply with Buy America rules, and most of the major components are built in America including the wheels and trucks, braking system, propulsion system, train control system, floors, seats, doors, windows, HVAC and others.”
It’s obviously a little more difficult to go take pictures of the trains in development, so we get our first look at some of the rigorous testing that they’re being put through thanks to our friends at RTD.
The tests they’re being put through range from everything between safety issues and clearance testing to extreme temperature and electrical tests. Essentially, they’re making sure the trains can do everything we will all need them to prior to sending the shells away for final assembly in Philidelphia and delivery here in Denver.
Look for delivery of these trains to Denver sometime late next year!
Also, a quick reminder to everyone who drives near FasTracks (and any other) construction sites. As both the East, Gold, NWES, and I-225 Rail Lines accelerate major construction elements, it’s of extra importance to keep your speeds lower and keep an eye out construction crews. They’re hard at work to make sure that we have another safe transportation mode, so we owe it to them to keep them safe as well. Driving a little slower and more cautious in construction zones won’t hurt you, but it may just help keep someone on a construction crew safe.
Time for a quick update on the Gold Line and Northwest Electrified Segment (NWES).
Crews have been busy at work on the Jersey Cutoff (which I covered in an earlier post), marking some of the most visible construction along the Gold Line and NWES. Situated just south and west of the Mousetrap, this bridge is easily visible from I-70 and serves a critical function in both RTD and the freight rail’s operations in this busy corridor. The bridge will allow Gold Line and NWES trains to travel up and over the Jersey Cutoff as the trains travel north. The bridge will drop the trains back down to ground level before they travel underneath I-70. Without it, neither the Gold Line nor NWES could function.
Courtesy of RTD, we have a slideshow of the construction. The location is hard to get to and find a good angle, so these pictures are awesome to show the breadth and magnitude of this bridge – its BIG.
We have our first detailed look at the ongoing construction of the new rail cars for the EAGLE Project, courtesy of RTD!
As many of you may have seen in a recent Denver Business Journal article, the 50 cars that will be used along the East, Gold, and Northwest corridors are currently under construction in South Korea by Hyundai-Rotem. The basic shells of the cars will be constructed in South Korea before being shipped to another Hyundai-Rotem factory in Philidelphia. At this state-side factory, the rest of the cars will be assembled – everything from the windows to the seats to the propulsion systems will be installed there.
Some may be asking why the cars are not constructed by an American company, a good question given these economic times and emphasis on creating good jobs in America. There currently isn’t an American manufacturer to build commuter rail vehicles. Even with the Korean construction of the initial train shells, the train cars will still meet all ‘Buy America‘ requirements as imposed by the federal government. RTD estimates upwards of 60% of the trains will be constructed and assembled in the United States with American workers.
There is a set of four initial cars that will be fully constructed (wheels, HVAC system, seats, windows, etc.) and tested in Korea early next year. Assuming they pass their tests, the train cars will be disassembled and sent to Philadelphia along with the 46 other RTD rail cars for final assembly. Look for the new rail cars to begin arriving in late 2014/early 2015!
It’s not super sexy and it’s fairly remote, but here’s the first sign of construction for both the Gold Line and Northwest Electrified Segment (NWES)! The Jersey Cutoff bridge is a little known, but critical piece of both corridors. The bridge will allow Gold Line and NWES trains to travel up and over the Jersey Cutoff (approximate location seen in red in the map below) as the trains travel north. The bridge will drop the trains back down to ground level before they travel underneath I-70.
The folks at RTD describe the trek traveling from the 41st/Fox Station north towards the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (CRMF) as a “roller coaster” because the train travels up and over the freight tracks only to return to grade to travel beneath I-70 in about a 1/2 mile span.
It’s hard to get close up shots of the bridge construction right now, given it’s happening in no-man’s land. As the project progresses, I’ll try and track down some better photos showing more detailed pictures of its progress.
Just to the west of the tracks and south of 44th Avenue, crews are also working on expanding the electrical substation to help power the trains as well. The trains on both the Gold Line and NWES will be the same electric-multiple units (EMUs) as will run on the East Rail Line out to DIA. The power systems will resemble those we see on the current light rail system, but will require much more power. Therefore, an expansion of this substation was required.
You can see this construction from I-70 (look south) as you approach the Mousetrap from the west – just be careful if you’re going to take a look! In the next few months, we’ll start to see both of these corridors come alive with more construction activity!