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April 2009

Rail News: MOW

8th Annual MOW Survey: Passenger Railroads

by Angela Cotey, Associate editor

The recession is severely impacting transit agencies’ operating budgets. Sales tax revenues that many agencies depend on to fund their operations are down and states, which are dealing with budget crises of their own, are slashing funding for transit along with other programs.

However, the recession has prompted an unexpected boon for transit agencies’ capital plans. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $8.4 billion for public transit and $1.3 billion for Amtrak capital projects, many of which fall into the maintenance-of-way (MOW) category.

Of the 22 transit agencies that responded to our survey, nine are spending more, seven are spending less and three are spending the same (three agencies didn’t provide budget figures or didn’t give comparison data). Although none of the respondents specifically mentioned stimulus funding in their surveys — which were due back before most agencies knew exactly what they would be receiving — the influx of federal funds will have an impact on agencies’ state-of-good repair programs now and for years to come.

Stimulus dollars will go a long way toward helping Amtrak accomplish some of its MOW goals. The national intercity passenger railroad has delayed replacing the 102-year-old Niantic River Bridge in Connecticut more than 20 years because funds weren’t available. Now, Amtrak will use $105 million in stimulus funds to complete the project, which could begin later this year, says Deputy Chief of Engineering and Structures Jim Richter.

“With the nature of Amtrak’s funding, we’re never sure what we’ll get from one year to the next,” he says. “If we hadn’t gotten this stimulus money, would we have been able to proceed with the Niantic project? Probably not.”

The project calls for replacing the bascule bridge with a similar-style bridge on a new alignment, which means constructing new approaches to the bridge, as well as new track and catenary.

“Since it’s on a new alignment, it should have a negligible impact to our operations,” Richter says.

The bridge replacement originally was scheduled as a three-year project, but because of stimulus funding guidelines, the project will need to be completed in just two years, he says.

“When we go out for bid to contractors, we’ll have to tell them there’s a deadline they need to meet in their proposal,” says Richter.

Amtrak also plans to use stimulus funds to install concrete ties, repair facilities and restore stations.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is allocating stimulus funds for MOW work, as well. Last month, the authority awarded a $56.6 million contract to joint venture Kiewit-Reyes to rehabilitate about 36,000 feet of track in the Blue Line Dearborn subway. The work is scheduled to begin in mid-April. During the past two years, CTA has rehabilitated more than 6,000 feet of track in the Blue Line subway between the Damen and Clark/Lake stations to eliminate slow zones.

New Jersey Transit is directing a portion of its $400 million in stimulus dollars to MOW projects, too. The agency expects to complete Phase II of the Lower Hack Drawbridge project; an interlocking on the Hudson-Bergen light-rail line; track replacement on the Montclair-Boonton and Main lines; an intermodal transfer station linking the River and Atlantic City lines; and tie replacement on the Atlantic City line.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will spend some of its $202 million in stimulus funds to repair crumbling platforms and rehabilitate the oldest stretch of track in the rail system.

Priorities, priorities

Meanwhile, other transit agencies had planned on launching large-scale projects this fiscal year prior to the economic nosedive, and since funding already had been allocated, they still plan to advance the work.

“Due to the pre-established funding for 2009, there should be little to no effect, resulting from a weak economy, on the execution of the MOW program,” MTA Long Island Rail Road officials said in their survey.

Instead, the challenge in carrying out a program will be to prioritize work to ensure agencies get the most bang for their buck, said Dallas Area Rapid Transit officials in their survey.

“Our primary goal is to maintain system and facility standards by replacing systems, equipment and facility components that have met or exceeded their lifecycles, as well as respond to greater demand for pubic transportation through system expansion,” the survey said.

This year, DART’s MOW budget totals $2.6 million (up from 2009’s $170,000) primarily because the agency continues to build the 28-mile Green Line between Carrollton, Dallas and Buckner, Texas. DART plans to open the first segment, between downtown Dallas and Fair Park, in September.

Headed to the airport

Miami-Dade Transit’s MOW budget has shot up 113 percent to $6.3 million this year, due in large part to its $526 million, 2.4-mile Metrorail extension from the existing Earlington Heights station to a new Airport Intermodal Station at Miami International Airport. The agency has used MOW funds to purchase 10,000 rail fasteners for the project, and in April plans to issue a notice to proceed for the airport station construction.

The $40 million facility will be part of the larger Miami Intermodal Center, which is being built by the Florida Department of Transportation and will connect Miami-Dade Transit, Tri-Rail, airport people mover and car rental services, says spokesperson John Labriola.

The multi-level station will feature a covered pedestrian concourse, informational displays and kiosks, elevators and escalators.

At the Utah Transit Authority, a light-rail maintenance facility accounts for this year’s drastic MOW budget increase from 2008’s $600,000 to $30.6 million. The agency purchased a furniture warehouse in South Salt Lake, and plans to gut the building’s interior and turn it into a shop. The facility will feature a wheel-truing machine, equipment to conduct heavy repairs on light-rail vehicles, and pits and overhead mezzanines to conduct running repairs, says Rail Service General Manager Paul O’Brien.


2009 MOW Plans (by budget amount)

MTA New York City Transit

2009 MOW budget: $1.4 billion

2008 MOW budget: $825.9 million

Reason for increase: Major projects will be ready for award in 2009, including the initial phases of work on rehabilitating the Culver Avenue Viaduct and retrofitting the Flushing Line with CBTC. Over the five-year capital program, 2008 had a below-average investment pace, which is compensated for in 2009.

Rail: Replace 13.13 miles of elevated, subway and yard track, plus adjacent track, as well as 3.6 miles of continuous-welded rail (CWR). Significant projects include: Culver Line viaduct rehab, 1 mile, Brooklyn, N.Y., ($195 million); interlockings on the Culver and Lexington lines, Brooklyn and Manhattan ($250 million); mainline track program, 11.3 miles, various locations ($162.9 million); install 31 mainline switches system-wide ($40 million); CWR program, 3.6 miles, various locations ($11.7 million); yard track program, 1.85 miles, various locations ($3.1 million); install 16 yard switches, various locations ($9.4 million).

Ties: Install 19,540 wood ties, 18,780 tie blocks and 9,820 concrete ties.

Bridge projects: Replace Culver Line Viaduct in Brooklyn (begin in April, $350 million).

Station or facility projects: Rehab three stations on the Rockaway Line ($51.1 million), five stations on the Pelham Line ($117.7 million) and the East 180th Street Station on the White Plains Road line ($59.1 million). NYCT also will make ADA improvements at the following stations: Mott Avenue (began in March, $14.2 million); East 180th Street (begin in April ($13 million); and 45 Rd./Courthouse Square (begin in December, $22.3 million). Other station improvements will be made throughout the system ($89.1 million).


2009 MOW budget: $449.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $465.6 million

Reason for decrease: Current forecast of available funding is less than FY2008.

Rail: Rehabilitate 42 miles.

Ties: Install 111,700 concrete; 89,000 wood.

Bridge projects: Begin construction of a new Niantic River Bridge, $100 million over the next several years; continue final design of Portal Movable Bridge project; begin final design of the Connecticut River Movable Bridge.

Station or facility projects: More than 40 station projects under way valued at more than $20 million. Projects include roof repairs, escalator replacement (including a $2.5 million replacement at Penn Station New York and $1.5 million replacement at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia) and platform repairs and ADA station improvements. Specific station projects include replacing the Sanford, Fla., station ($1.7 million budgeted in FY09), and a northbound platform and elevator replacement at Baltimore/Washington International Station ($5.3 million budgeted in FY09).

Chicago Transit Authority

2009 MOW budget: $252 million

2008 MOW budget: $267 million

Reason for decrease: Limited capital funding available.

Rail: Replace 10.6 miles, including Red Line North Main, 1.9 miles, and Blue Line Dearborn Subway, 8.7 miles.

Ties: Install 50,100 ties, including 33,300 concrete half ties, 13,800 recycled plastic ties and 3,000 wood ties.

Station or facility projects: By year’s end, CTA expects to finish rehabilitating the last three of 18 stations as part of its Brown Line capacity expansion project. The agency is lengthening platforms to accommodate longer trains and making the stations more accessible. CTA also is spending $87 million to renovate Howard Station, such as by installing new concrete platforms, repairing a viaduct and completing track work. The project is scheduled to be complete in late 2009.

MTA Long Island Rail Road

2009 MOW budget: $192.9 million

2008 MOW budget: $218.2 million

Reason for decrease: The budgets are similar in magnitude and represent the latter part of the current five-year capital program. As a result, more significant projects are scheduled commence construction than in the earlier years, specifically as it pertains to the rehabilitation of bridges, viaducts and facilities.

Rail: As part of its $53.1 million 2009 annual track program, LIRR will renew 1,100 linear feet of Jamaica Station tracks, 2 wood switches, 25 surface interlocking switches and 6 miles of CWR, as well as rehabilitate 27 grade crossings, surface 77 miles of track, conduct 1,000 field welds, and replace 1,500 plates and undercut 5,000 linear feet of drainage. Locations of significant track projects include 66 miles on the Montauk Line ($14 million), 3 miles on the Atlantic Branch ($3 million) and 6 miles on the Long Beach Branch ($4 million).

Ties: Install 57,600 wood ties and 3,400 concrete ties (in crossings only). Significant tie installations include 45,500 mechanized wood ties on the Montauk Line, 3,600 on the Atlantic Branch and 8,500 on the Long Beach Branch.

Bridge projects: LIRR’s 2005-2009 Capital Program includes rehabbing 19 bridges, one viaduct, culverts and drainage structures. Design contracts for 12 bridges, the viaduct and one drainage structure awarded in 2007/2008. Construction contract for the drainage structure awarded last year. A design-build contract for Phase 1 of the Atlantic viaduct rehabilitation awarded in March 2008. A Phase 2 design-build contract is anticipated in 2009. Design contracts for the remainder of the program structures were awarded in 2008/2009, with awards for associated construction contracts anticipated in 2009/2010.

Station or facility projects: Replace escalators at Merrick, Bellmore and Massapequa Park stations, $4.1 million (begin in third quarter); replace two elevators at Great Neck Station, $3.3 million (begin in second quarter); build a new automated train wash east of Babylon Station, $26.7 million (begin in third quarter); and modify shop facilities at Hillside, Richmond Hill, Morris Park and West Side Yard, $43.2 million (begin in second quarter).

MTA Metro-North Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $90 million

2008 MOW budget: $118 million

Reason for decrease: Concrete tie program in Connecticut in 2008.

Rail: Rehabilitate 63.5 miles, replace 14 miles of concrete ties and install 4.3 miles of CWR. Metro-North also will renew interlockings in New York City, Croton Harmon, Poughkeepsie and Brewster, N.Y., and Stamford, South Norwalk and New Canaan, Conn. ($9.5 million in New York; $3.7 million in Connecticut).

Ties: Install 100,000 ties, including 36,00 concrete and 64,000 wood.

Bridge projects: Stringer repairs on Main Street Bridge in Port Jervis ($600,000); replace diaphrams and repair bearings on O&W Truss in Campbell Hall, N.Y. ($800,000); install ballast retainer and wingwall on Leewood Drive bridge in Crestwood, N.Y. ($400,000); replace superstructure and extend abutment on Sunnyside Drive bridge in Pleasantville, N.Y. ($900,000); replace superstructure with ballast deck on Carmel Brook bridge in Pawling, N.Y. ($700,000); replace top rail on rail top culvert in Scarborough, N.Y. ($1.6 million); and replace bottom flange rivets with high-strength bolts on Croton River Bridge in Croton Harmon, N.Y. ($2 million).

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

2009 MOW budget: $33.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $33.1 million

Rail: Replace 54 miles of the Media Sharon Hill light-rail system, Media, Pa. ($8 million) and 6 miles in Fern Rock Yard in Philadelphia ($19 million); rehab 20 miles of RRD commuter rail, various locations, and 2 miles of surface rail in Philadelphia.

Ties: Install 30,000 wood ties.

Bridge projects: Repair pedestrian tunnel on the Media/Elwyn Line; rehab bridge column bents on the Chestnut Hill East Line; repair collision damaged girders on two bridges on the Chestnut Hill West Line. Total cost: $2.2 million

Station or facility projects: Ambler Station reconstruction, Ambler, Pa., includes building high-level platforms on both sides of the track, a new station with ticket office, waiting room and bathroom, and canopies and shelters ($7 million); Ryers Station reconstruction project, Philadelphia, includes new high-level platform, shelter with windscreen, and new stairs and ramps ($3.8 million); Olney Station reconstruction, Philadelphia, includes building new high-level platform and two shelters, expanding parking lot and adding surveillance cameras ($2.5 million); and Logan Station improvement project, Philadelphia, includes raising platform floors, upgrading fare line gates, partitions and lock-down gates, replacing cashier booths, refurbishing ceiling, repairing stairway walls and installing ADA-compliant stair treads ($3.7 million).

Utah Transit Authority

2009 MOW budget: $30.6 million

2008 MOW budget: $600,000

Reason for increase: Branch line rehab, new light-rail shop.

Rail: Rehabilitate 10 miles in Midvale, Utah.

Ties: Install 400 wood ties.

Station or facility projects: Build new light-rail shop, began in January, $30 million.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

FY2009 MOW budget: $26 million

FY2008 MOW budget: $27.1 million

Reason for decrease: Budget reduction.

Rail: Replace 7 miles. During a shutdown between Ronald Reagan Washington National and Braddock Road stations, WMATA rehabbed 2,600 linear feet of ballasted track ($150,000); during a shutdown between Arlington Cemetery, L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon stations, WMATA replaced 2 turnouts, 600 fasteners and 2 switch machines ($610,000).

Ties: Install 5,000 wood ties.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

2009 MOW budget: $24.6 million

2008 MOW budget: $20.4 million

Reason for increase: Continued rehabilitation of Metro Blue and Red lines.

Rail: Only rehabilitating light-rail street crossings. Significant ongoing projects include 6.6-mile Metro Gold Line Eastside extension ($898 million total budget) and 8.6-mile Metro Exposition Line ($808.3 million).

Ties: Install at least 550 10-foot concrete ties and 200 timber switch ties on the Blue Line as part of upgrades to 25 crossings, $11 million, scheduled to be complete in FY2011.

Station or facility projects: Build heavy-rail car wash and cleaning platform in downtown L.A. ($19.4 million, begin in July); install two additional two-car heavy-rail vehicle hoists in downtown L.A. maintenance and repair shop ($4.25 million, began in December 2008); add canopies over Metro Red Line subway entrances ($6.6 million, begin in September); modernize escalator/elevator at Civic Center Statio ($12 million, began in July 2008); and purchase bicycle lockers and racks for rail stations ($1.3 million, began in July 2008).

Miami-Dade Transit

2009 MOW budget: $6.3 million

2008 MOW budget: $2.9 million

Reason for increase: Miami-Dade Transit purchased 10,000 rail fasteners and will be issuing an additional order before year’s end. Also, kicking off a five-mile coverboard replacement.

Rail: Rehabilitate 2 miles and replace 4,500 feet of track in Miami, $360,000.

Ties: Install 1,000 wood and 1,000 concrete

Bridge projects: Extend system from Earlington Heights Station to Airport Intermodal Station, notice to proceed to be issued in April ($320 million).

Station or facility projects: Begin construction on Airport Intermodal Station at Miami International Airport to connect Metro Rail with Tri-Rail, car rental facility and airport people mover as part of the 2.4-mile rail extension. NTP to be issued in April ($40 million).

Altamont Commuter Express

2009 MOW budget: $5 million

2008 MOW budget: $5 million

Rail: Install 0.75 miles, siding extension, $13 million total.

Station or facility projects: In March, ACE began construction on a $64 million maintenance facility, which will be used for daily inspection, maintenance and cleaning of rolling stock, as well as progressive maintenance, such as light and heavy repairs of passenger cars and locomotives. ACE also is designing platform extensions in San Joaquin and Alameda counties to accommodate eight-car train sets, $550,000. Construction to begin in winter 2010.

Trinity Railway Express

2009 MOW budget: $4.9 million (track); $1.2 million (signals)

2008 MOW budget: $5.4 million (track); $1.5 million (signals)

Reason for decrease: No station upgrades as in 2008.

Rail: Replace 1 mile in Richland Hills, Texas, $3.9 million, and install one #20 and one #24 concrete turnouts, as well as two switches.

Ties: Install 9,500 wood ties.

Bridge projects: Replace Euless South Main bridges in Fort Worth (completed in January, $3.4 million); replace bridge track panel on Madill Sub. (begin in June, $67,600); repair I-35 bridge ($97,175); and replace bridge track panel on the DFW (begin in May, ($87,292).

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

2009 MOW budget: $3.8 million

2008 MOW budget: $2.3 million

Reason for increase: Rail rehabilitation project continues with new track for intersections at Market Street and Almaden in San Jose ($2.1 million). The agency also is completing a project to improve signage, markings and signals on intersections with high left-turn accident and track intrusion incidents ($1.6 million).

Rail: Replace 0.25 miles, including three downtown San Jose light-rail curves, $2.1 million.

Ties: Install 40 ties, including 10 plastic and 30 wood.

Station or facility projects: Continue Guadalupe Corridor Southline platform retrofit to adjust platform height to match VTA’s low-floor light-rail vehicles and rehab 13 original light-rail stations ($20.8 million, to be complete in April).

Port Authority Transit Corp.

2009 MOW budget: $3.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $2.2 million

Reason for increase: Additional capital funding available to undertake projects.

Rail: Replace 3.5 miles.

Ties: Spot replacement of wood ties.

Bridge projects: System-wide limited bridge rehabilitation contract ($2.5 million, begin in December).

Station or facility projects: About $2.5 million available for 30 projects in 2009.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit

2009 MOW budget: $2.6 million

2008 MOW budget: $170,000

Reason for increase: As a result of build-out programs and special projects, track and right-of-way budget was increased by $1.5 million to purchase track equipment. In addition, $1.1 million approved for signal equipment upgrades.

Rail: Replace 1 mile in downtown central business district, $1.2 million. Replace 118-pound girder rail with 115-pound rail with bolt-on strap guard. Rail section embedded in elastomeric grout.

Station or facility projects: Four new stations planned for 2009: Deep Ellum, Baylor, Fair Park and Martin Luther King.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

2009 MOW budget: $1.5 million

2008 MOW budget: N/A

Rail: Replace 1,000 linear feet of gauge worn rail and 5,820 feet of track in the Mt. Lebanon Tunnel; resurface Library Line (10 track miles).

Ties: Install 2,000 wood ties as part of spot replacement.

Station or facility projects: General maintenance.

GO Transit

2009 MOW budget: $1 million

2008 MOW budget: $1 million

Rail: Rehabilitate 5 miles.

Ties: Install less than 1,000 wood ties.

Bridge projects: Rehab concrete bridge at Jarvis Street in Toronto ($2 million, to be complete in July); replace single-span TPG in Aurora ($1.8 million, complete in November).

Station or facility projects: Refurbish train shed roof in Toronto, four- or five-year contract ($19 million annually, to begin in June).

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas

2009 MOW budget: $867,000

2008 MOW budget: $9.1 million

Reason for decrease: Majority of FY08 capital budget was allocated for wayside improvements. Reduction is mainly due to projects being completed and/or incorporated into the Rail Expansion Program.

Rail: Rehabilitate a quarter-mile of rail in Houston.

Ties: Install 180 composite ties.

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon

2009 MOW budget: $753,000

2008 MOW budget: $114,000

Reason for increase: I-205 and Portland Mall expansion project in progress.

Rail: Expand I-205 North/South Line 6.6 miles; expand Portland Mall along 5th and 6th avenues.

Ties: Install 10 wood ties.

Charlotte Area Transit System

2009 MOW budget: $735,000

2008 MOW budget: $200,000

(Program details not provided.)

Sound Transit

2009 MOW budget: N/A

2008 MOW budget: N/A

Sound Transit does not have a distinct MOW budget; projects are funded through capital project budget.

Rail: Replace 7 miles between Tacoma and Lakewood, Wash. ($30 million-$35 million). Sound Transit also recently began construction on the $1.9 billion, 3.1-mile University Link light-rail line, which will run underground between downtown Seattle and the University of Washington.

Ties: Install 17,000 concrete and 5,100 wood.

Station or facility projects: Potentially complete the Mukilteo Station south platform and overhead pedestrian bridge ($6 million-$7 million); begin constructing two stations as part of University Link project.

Regional Transportation District of Denver

2009 MOW budget: 0

2008 MOW budget: 0

Rail: Continue building 12.1-mile West Corridor between Denver and Lakewood, Colo., $707 million (funded through FasTracks budget).

Station or facility projects: Platform extensions at four stations on Southwest Corridor (funded through FasTracks budget).


MOW ’09 Contents


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