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Part 1 : 2015 MOW Spending Report: Railroads set aside billions of dollars to bolster infrastructure
Part 2 : Large freight railroads ramp up budgets, workloads
Part 3 : Small freight railroads target more dollars at more infrastructure improvements
Part 4 : Passenger railroads allocate additional dollars to take on a plethora of projects
2015 MOW Plans (By Budget Amount)
2015 MOW capital budget: $880 million (about 54 percent from capital funds and the remainder from federal and state programs)
2014 MOW capital budget: $700 million
Reasons for budget increase: The increased funding allows for the implementation of major track programs that include both mechanized TLM replacement of concrete ties and the undercutter full ballast replacement. It also allows for advancing design of major structures and facilities that include a new tunnel and a bridge in Maryland, and a MOW facility in New Jersey; completing the Hudson Yard ROW preservation concrete encasement project in New York; continuing the New Jersey high-speed rail project that provides for interlocking reconfigurations and upgrades to track, catenary, signals and electrical systems; initiating major rehabilitation work at 30th Street Station; replacing major substations and frequency converters; and continuing state-funded trackwork in Michigan and New York.
Rail: Install 18 track miles of rail.
Major track projects/line extensions: Continuous-welded rail (CWR) stretch replacement from Bowie to Grove interlockings, 8 miles; TLM replacement of concrete ties from Bacon to Prince interlockings, 9.5 miles; and undercutter full ballast replacement from Bacon to Prince and Gunpow to Wood interlockings, 12 miles; all work in Maryland.
Ties: Replace or install 113,000 wood and 38,000 concrete ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 30 turnouts, Deco, Adams, A, Dock and Swift interlockings; additional turnouts to be installed by divisions in various yards system-wide.
Bridge work: Preliminary design for B&P Tunnel in Maryland has a fiscal-year 2015 budget of $17 million versus $1.5 million spent in FY14 for an increase of $15.5 million, and preliminary design for Susquehanna River Bridge has a FY15 budget of $5 million versus $2.5 million spent in FY14 for an increase of $2.5 million. Both projects are further along in their design process, which is anticipated to result in a spending increase in FY15 over prior years.
Stations/facilities: Facade work at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia has a FY15 budget of $12 million after only spending $400,000 in FY14, for an increase of almost $11.6 million; project anticipated to move into full construction in FY15, which is driving the funding increase. In addition, have budgeted $12 million in FY15 toward the start of a new MOW base at Hunter Yard in New Jersey that had zero funding in FY14.
2015 MOW capital budget: $495,524,229 (FasTracks Program capital budget, including guideway and track elements; stations, terminals and stops; sitework; systems; vehicles; and rights of way, land and existing improvements)
2014 MOW capital budget: $998,511,627 (FasTracks Program capital budget, included guideway and track elements; stations, terminals and stops; support facilities; sitework; systems; vehicles; and rights of way, land and existing improvements)
Reason for budget decrease: Ramping up of FasTracks Program progressively increased capital expenditures, with peak investment activities occurring in 2013-14. Now, expenditures are ramping down from 2015 to program completion in 2018 or 2019.
Major track projects/line extensions:
2015 MOW capital budget: $360.5 million (track program)
2014 MOW capital budget: $277.3 million
Reasons for budget increase: An increase in the scope of trackwork is required due to results of the latest Mainline Track Condition Survey.
Rail: Replace or install 16.92 miles of track.
Major track project: Reconfigure switch and rehabilitate track panel on the Dyre Line in the Bronx, N.Y., $30.3 million, includes 7 switches and 1.27 miles of track.
Ties: Replace or install 14,620 wood and 4,980 concrete ties, and 15,130 wood-tie blocks.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 22 mainline switches.
2015 MOW capital budget: $112,024,749
2014 MOW capital budget: $262,935,000
Reason for budget decrease: Since new LRVs on the Red Line expansion already have been tested and commissioned, that amount of funds was not included in the FY2015 budget.
Rail: Install about one-half mile of ballast track to replace wood ties and ballast on the Red Line from Fannin South to Reliant Park, $1.88 million, also includes replacement of 4 crossings.
Ties: Replace wood ties in ballast track (mentioned above) with composite ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: There are seven switches in the area where the ballast track wood ties and crossings will be replaced.
Bridge work: A bridge project involves connecting the east end rail together; the rail ends at Clifton and Harrisburg. The construction of the bridge will connect the west end of Harrisburg to the east end of Harrisburg and go over the existing grade crossing between Clifton and 66th Street, start in summer.
Stations/facilities: Discussing the possibility of constructing one facility for MOW in FY2016.
2015 MOW capital budget: $102 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $60 million
Reason for budget increase: The higher budget addresses a backlog of capital work involving track, drainage structures, and undergrade and overhead bridges.
Rail: Install 10 miles of CWR in New York and Connecticut.
Ties: Replace or install 41,500 wood ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 26 mainline turnouts.
Bridge work: Complete steel repairs on 12 undergrade and 6 overhead bridges; repair concrete or masonry on 3 undergrade bridges; and replace 31 wooden bridge decks.
Stations/facilities: Upgrade 5 passenger stations.
2015 MOW capital budget: $98.9 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $93.3 million
Reasons for budget increase: The state of Pennsylvania passed a transportation funding bill in November 2013 that provided an increase in stable funding. As a legacy transit system, bringing the infrastructure to a state of good repair has driven many of the authority's capital improvement projects. The new state funding allows the authority to reinvest in infrastructure at an increased rate. Many infrastructure projects are in the design phase; as construction begins, the level of infrastructure investment will continue to increase in fiscal-year 2016.
Rail: Install or replace 24.7 miles of rail.
Major track projects/line extensions: Track renewal programs, including the CSX separation project in Philadelphia and Bucks County, 3.75 miles, $9.3 million; Route 102 Woodlawn Avenue project in Delaware County, $4.9 million; viaduct bridge timber replacements in Delaware County, $4.4 million; Norristown Line project in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, 4.3 miles, $2.6 million; Center City Trolley Track in Philadelphia, 2.8 miles, $1.9 million; grade crossing renewals system-wide, $800,000; Norristown High Speed Line track renewal in Delaware and Montgomery counties, $600,000; and curved worn rail replacements in Philadelphia, $400,000. Many of the projects are part of multi-year MOW renewal programs.
Ties: Replace or install 19,500 wood and 13,200 concrete ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: The 2015 track program includes the completion of special trackwork at 4 locations: 1 project on the Broad Street Line, 1 on the City Trolley Lines and 2 on the Norristown High Speed Line. Work on the Wood and Iron interlockings on the regional railroad will be ongoing in 2015, while design work to replace the Arsenal interlocking on the regional railroad will commence in 2015.
Bridge work: Will work on several bridge rehabilitation programs in 2015, including the Media Viaduct rehab and tie replacement program at three viaducts in Delaware County, $31.5 million, ongoing; Chestnut Hill Bridge over the Main Line in Philadelphia, $6.3 million, ongoing; and Stone Arch Bridge Program involving 9 bridges system-wide, $5.3 million, ongoing. Also, awarded a design-build contract in December 2014 to replace the Crum Creek Viaduct in Delaware County, $55.5 million, start in summer; and the Whiskey Run Bridge, $1.5 million, start in summer.
Stations/facilities: Many station improvement and ADA projects scheduled to start in 2015, including the Margaret-Orthodox facility in Philadelphia ($26.6 million); 69th Street West Terminal in Upper Darby ($19 million); 40th Street facility on the Market-Frankford Line ($6.5 million); 9th Street facility in Lansdale ($3.8 million); and regional rail stations at Levittown ($25 million), Exton ($17.7 million), Secane ($15.6 million) and Villanova ($10.6 million). Smaller station improvement campaigns will be carried out on the Wilmington, Paoli and Norristown High Speed lines, while parking expansion programs are planned for several regional rail stations. Also, will invest in new roofs, fire suppression systems and equipment replacements at several key rail maintenance facilities, and initiate a five-year, $220.8 million program to rehab 80-year-old traction power substations. The first substations to be addressed include Lenni and Morton on the Media/Elwyn Line, and Jenkintown, Ambler and Lansdale on the Main Line. An additional 13 substations will be overhauled or replaced through the program.
2015 MOW capital budget: $65 million annual track program; $31.1 million structures budget
2014 MOW capital budget: $50.9 million annual track program; $25.1 million structures budget
Reasons for budget increase: Inflation and new capital program funding for 2015-19.
Rail: Install 19.2 miles of CWR.
Major rail project: Install CWR on Port Jefferson, Divide to Amott, $12.4 million.
Ties: Replace or install 12,080 wood and 16,779 concrete ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Renew 14 switches, $8.6 million, including 5 on Montauk, 4 on Port Jefferson, 3 on mainline and 2 on Port Washington.
Bridge work: Structures Department plans to continue a state-of-good-repair bridge program that was established in 2008 to achieve such a state on all LIRR bridges by the end of the 2020-24 capital program; annually, 12 to 14 bridges are rehabilitated under the program. For 2015, 14 bridges and a viaduct will be rehabbed, with budget for bridges set at $3,825,292. Typical scope of work includes repair of superstructure (deck and under-deck repairs, deck drainage, steel repair), column concrete and steel repair, and repair of unsound concrete spalls and cracks in abutment and wingwalls.
Stations/facilities: Continue to construct 2 high-level, center island platforms at the Belmont Park Station, began in August 2014 and construction started in January 2015, scheduled for commission on June 6 for 147th Belmont Stakes, $4,263,194. Work includes demolition of 32 existing timber platforms and 2 existing steel/concrete overpass stairs, the removal of 2 overpass escalators, construction of 2 new 10-car, high-level platforms and fabrication and installation of 4 double-wide aluminum platform stairs.
2015 MOW capital budget: $64 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $125 million
Reasons for budget decrease: In 2014, the Tasman Drive pocket track project was completed, several traction power substations were replaced and the Mountain View, Calif., double-track project began, with the Caltrain portion completed last year.
Rail: Install 2 miles of rail.
Major track project/line extension: Complete 1.5 miles in Mountain View, about $15 million; and 0.5 miles in San Jose, Calif., about $4 million.
Ties: Install 2,000 concrete and 1,000 wood ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 1 crossover in San Jose and 12 turnouts, with the majority in Mountain View.
Bridge work: Continue to monitor and inspect light-rail bridges and structures in accordance with California Public Utilities Commission requirements; structures showing defects will either need further investigation or require corrective actions. The project funds a consultant to monitor and address a further detailed investigation in required areas and to take corrective actions for those items that immediately need to be addressed.
Stations/facilities: Possibly install fencing along the light-rail corridor to deter pedestrian intrusion; replace pedestrian swing gates along corridor; and install CCTV cameras at some light-rail stations.
In late January, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) closed a San Jose, Calif., intersection to begin construction on one of the most complex grade crossings in its planned BART Silicon Valley Berryessa extension.
The nine-month closure of the Sierra Road and Lundy Avenue crossing will enable a trench to be built for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to operate below the intersection. During the project, major utilities will be relocated, the roadway will be excavated and restored, and the trench will be constructed.
The final configuration of the intersection will remain at street level. BART trains will pass beneath the current street-level roadway, separating the trains from vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The project is one of 11 grade separations along the corridor.
The 16-mile BART Silicon Valley Berryessa extension to San Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara, Calif., is the largest transportation construction project in Santa Clara County's history, according to the VTA. Slightly passed the halfway point, the project is ahead of schedule and service is slated to begin in fall 2017.
As part of the extension, the VTA also closed the Montague light-rail station in late March. Over a five-month period, the agency plans to perform modifications to the station to accommodate a new pedestrian crossing over Capitol Avenue to the future Milpitas BART station.
To be completed in fall, the work involves reconstructing stairs, modifying elevators, installing a new escalator and building a new deck connecting the bridge to the future station.
2015 MOW capital budget: $43 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $43 million
Rail: Install 4 miles of rail.
Major track project/line extensions: Twin Peaks Tunnel track replacement project, 4 miles, $41 million; N-Line Sunset Tunnel trackway improvement project, 2 miles, $27.7 million; and Mission Bay Loop, 0.25 miles, $5.4 million. All work to be conducted within the city and county of San Francisco.
Ties: About 10,000 ties will be part of Green Light Rail Facility; about 10,500 composite ties will be installed in Sunset Tunnel; and a small project run by track maintenance will involve the replacement of about 600 ties and rail later in the year.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: New interlocking and street and pedestrian walkway improvements at the Balboa Part Station area and plaza, $6.4 million.
Stations/facilities: Green Center light-rail replacement, includes 57 turnouts with ladder track and loop, $39 million.
2015 MOW capital budget: $38 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $3.5 million
Reasons for budget increase: The bulk of the increase ($21.4 million) is for the installation of federally mandated positive train control, with the rest for new overhead catenary system tie switches at 34 locations to allow inspection and maintenance of the light-rail system to occur while trains are operating. Plus, the agency plans to spend about $7 million to overhaul 7 heavy-rail locomotives.
Major track project: Perform work between Seattle and SeaTac, Wash., for OCS tie switches, and between Lakewood and Everett, Wash., for PTC systems. Coordinate with partners on installation of PTC systems.
2015 MOW capital budget: $35,861,346
2014 MOW capital budget: $37,963,306
Rail: Install 2 miles of track.
Major track project/line extension: Replaced and re-booted 2 miles of rail at the Metro Blue Line Long Beach loop.
Ties: Install 500 to 1,000 composite ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Replace 65 yard switches at the Metro Blue Line Yard, replace 4 turnouts on the Blue Line and re-signal the Metro Blue Line train control system.
Stations/facilities: Replace 60-plus obsolete switch machines at the Metro Red Line Yard with installation work to be performed by Metro workforce; and upgrade 10 Metro Blue Line stations.
2015 MOW capital budget: $28 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $14.2 million
Reason for budget increase: A large rail station project accounts for $11 million of the 2015 program, which has been planned and budgeted for.
Rail: Install 1 mile of rail.
Major track projects: Rehabilitate Red Line west track from S-curve to West 117th, $1.3 million, advertise for bids in May and start in July; and complete 3 light-rail grade crossings, $2.5 million, started in April.
Ties: Install 3,000 wood and 500 concrete ties for entire program, including maintenance.
Bridge work: Build 3 light-rail bridges over 81st and East 83rd Streets, $3.5 million, started in April.
Stations/facilities: Reconstruct Brookpark Station, $11 million, started in April; and rehabilitate Tower City Track 7 and platform, $3 million, advertise for bids in October and start in January 2016.
2015 MOW capital budget: $18,000,000
2014 MOW capital budget: $12,892,000
Reasons for budget increase: Additional funds are being spent for new diamonds on the Union Pacific Harvard sub. Also, relaying rail in several curves on the Union Pacific and planning on renewing over 20 grade crossings this year in Chicago and all through the collar counties.
Ties: Replace or install 50,000 wood ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 5 switches at B-17 and 3 crossovers at A-5; 4 double slip switches on the Milwaukee District; new diamonds at Grayslake on the Milwaukee District West; and new diamonds on the Union Pacific Harvard sub.
2015 MOW capital budget: $12,189,000
2014 MOW capital budget: $11,714,000
Reason for budget increase: Aging infrastructure and focusing on a state of good repair.
Rail projects: Reseal existing joints on 11,050 lineal feet of track; install 13,800 lineal feet of CWR; and surface and align 3,700 track feet. All work in Atlanta and metropolitan area.
Ties: Install 667 wood switch and 50 concrete ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Installed 9 turnouts in FY2015; 105 turnouts have been completed during project.
Bridge work: Pressure inject grout to lift at-grade track slabs and approach slabs, and surface and align direct-fixation track, $1.4 million.
Stations/facilities: Renovate Oakland City Station on South Line in spring, $1.4 million, involves replacement of existing pavers with new exposed aggregate pavers, resetting the existing granite edge strips into a new mortar bed and addition of bright yellow ADA notification strips along the granite edges to better identify the platform edge. Also, a new underdrain system will be installed to allow moisture that could penetrate the surface to be released into the trackway, and new construction joints will be installed.
2015 MOW capital budget: $7.4 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $5.1 million
Reason for budget increase: Funding from prior years remaining for FY2014.
Rail: Rehabilitate track at various locations over the entire right of way totaling 51 miles; state of good repair is the main project, taking place in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Ties: Install 1,500 wood ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Replace and upgrade switch components; no new installations are part of system track maintenance as all new installations are handled as capital projects.
Bridge work: (Note: All are ongoing projects impacted by periodic delays due to lack of funding.) Replace 4 rail bridges in San Mateo, $38 million, began in February 2013; replace 2 bridges with a berm as part of Marin and Napoleon Bridge closures, $4.75 million, began in December 2014; replace 3 roadway bridges in San Francisco, $20 million, began in April 2006; replace and widen Los Gatos Creek Bridge, $32 million, began in September 2008; and replace Quint Street Bridge and close roadway in San Francisco, $20 million, began in August 2008.
Stations/facilities: Replace South San Francisco Station with centerboard platform and pedestrian underpass to eliminate hold-out-rule station, $59 million, began in February. Also, continue ongoing annual state-of-good-repair work.
2015 MOW capital budget: $5,833,424
2014 MOW capital budget: $5,483,166
Reasons for budget increase: More funds were budgeted in 2015 due to potential lack of work windows, bridge repairs and drainage corrections across the corridor.
Rail: Install 2.2 miles of rail, including 1.1 miles in Fort Worth, Texas, and 1.1 miles in Dallas, $1,287,953 for each segment.
Ties: Install 5,100 composite ties.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Due to wood switch tie deterioration, plan to replace 3 turnouts, including 2 No. 7, 133-pound, RBM turnouts on wood with 2 No. 7, 136-pound, RBM turnouts on composite ties, and 1 No. 8, 132-pound, RBM turnout on wood with 1 No. 8, 136-pound, RBM turnout on composite ties.
2015 MOW capital budget: $4.5 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $1 million
Reasons for budget increase: Due to funding from federal TIGER V grant program and priority changes from 2014.
Rail: Install 10 miles of rail, including 8 miles of new rail and ties in Austin, Texas.
Ties: Install 10,000 timber ties.
Bridge work: Use TIGER V grant funds to increase load capacity from 263k to 286k on the East/West/Central Subdivision, $1.7 million, start in summer.
Stations/facilities: Increase the capacity to upgrade the rail maintenance facility at NorthOps to accommodate 4 additional DMUs, about $800,000, start in the fourth quarter; and rebuild the downtown Austin station relocation, $22 million.
2015 MOW capital budget: $3.6 million
2014 MOW capital budget: $1.6 million
Reasons for budget increase: More funds available and an increase in available track outage times as the Blue Line rehabilitation project is completed.
Rail: Replace 2,800 feet of rail in curves and at grade crossings in San Diego.
Ties: Replace 5 grade crossings with 10-foot timber ties and concrete panels.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Rehabilitate 3 No. 10 turnouts with new rail and crossties, and add 3
2015 MOW capital budget: $1,443,616
2014 MOW capital budget: $335,000
Reasons for budget increase: Continued maintenance and additional ridership.
Rail: Install 3.1 miles of rail for the Central Mesa Extension.
Switches/turnouts/interlockings: Install 18 switches and 4 interlockings at Longmore, Date, Hibbert and Edgemont in Mesa, Ariz.
Bridge work: Inspections performed by contractor annually.
Stations/facilities: Light-rail vehicle passenger stations at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive in Mesa; traction power substations at Beverly, Hibbert and Edgemont in Mesa; signal buildings at Longmore, Date, Hibbert and Edgemont in Mesa; and a park-and-ride at Mesa Drive in Mesa.
On March 23, Valley Metro marked the fourth milestone for its $200 million, 3.1-mile Central Mesa light-rail extension through downtown Mesa, Ariz., to Mesa Drive.
The project — now more than two-thirds completed — reached the point that new paving, traffic signals and stations were in place. Community members and dignitaries walked across the Mesa Drive/Main Street station platform for the first time during a ceremony held in Mesa.
To open in late 2015, the line includes four stations at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive, and an end-of-line park-and-ride lot. Valley Transit Constructors, a joint venture between Kiewit Corp. and Mass. Electric Construction Co., is the design/build contractor, while Parsons Transportation Group serves as the lead designer.
In spring, construction crews will finish heavy civil construction work in the guideway and begin to focus on light rail and city power utilities, overhead catenary system adjustments and street signal testing.
Once the power system has been fully installed, tested and activated, Valley Metro plans to begin testing trains on the line.
The agency estimates the line will generate 5,000 new riders per day.
2015 MOW capital budget: $252,500
2014 MOW capital budget: $546,500
Reasons for budget decrease: A CBD rail replacement project is ongoing and has been broken down into three phases: replace critically worn track (phase one), purchase special trackwork (phase two) and replace remaining girder rail (phase three). The first phase was completed in the first quarter of FY2015, second-phase delivery will begin in the first quarter of FY2016 and the third phase has not yet been assigned a start date.
Major rail projects: The SOC-3 light-rail build-out has begun involving the addition of 2.5 miles of light-rail track to extend the Blue Line from Ledbetter Station to the University of North Texas; and the first phase of the Dallas Street Car will open in April, a 1.7-mile system connecting the Union Station area on the west side of downtown Dallas with the city's Oak Cliff section.
Ties: Install about 500 composite ties.
Stations/facilities: Refurbish Red Line elevators at Cityplace, Mockingbird, Park Lane, Walnut Hill, Forest Lane and Spring Valley LRT stations, $927,000; and repair or replace concrete staircases at the Walnut Hill and Park Lane LRT aerial stations, $400,000.
2015 MOW capital budget: N/A
2014 MOW capital budget: N/A
Major rail project: Install 10,700 feet of track to rehabilitate the Ravenswood Connector between the Armitage and Merchandise Mart stations on the elevated Brown Line, $71.2 million, began in summer 2013 and scheduled for completion in late 2015. The 2-phased project calls for replacing deteriorated ties and track components in 2015.
Stations/facilities: Completed the Cermak-McCormick Place Station on the Green Line in February, $50 million. Ongoing and new projects for 2015 include reconstructing the 95th Street bus and rail terminal that opened in 1969, $240 million, began in fall 2014 and is slated for completion in 2017; reconstructing Wilson Station on the Red Line that was built in 1923, including the replacement of about 2,200 feet of track and structures that are more than a century old, $203 million, began in fourth-quarter 2014 and slated for completion in fall 2017; constructing a new Washington/Wabash station to combine two century-old Loop Elevated Line stations, $75 million, began in March and to be completed in 2016; improving 4 stations as part of the $492 million Blue Line O'Hare Branch modernization program, $43 million, start design work in spring for Addison, Irving Park/Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland stations, begin work in fall and finish in fall 2016; rehabilitating the Illinois Medical District Station built in 1958, such as by upgrading all 3 station entrances, adding an elevator and building new stairs, $23 million, accepting bids in April and starting work no later than early 2016; and upgrading subway wireless/cellular infrastructure to a 4G network, including at subway platforms, mezzanines and tunnels, $32.5 million, began in January and to conclude by year's end.
Major track project/line extension: Blue Line extension, 4.3 miles, $270 million.
Switches/interlockings: Two interlockings.
Bridge work: Blue Line light-rail extension to Cosumnes River College will include bridges.
Stations/facilities: Blue Line light-rail extension to Cosumnes River College will include stations.
Rail project: Lehman Center test track, $16.6 million, began in February 2013 and was slated for completion in March 2015.
Stations/facilities: Lehman Yard rehab and expansion phase 1, $8.7 million, began in February 2013 and was slated for completion in March 2015.
Other work: Central control upgrade, $26.3 million, began in March 2012 and was slated for completion in March 2015; feasibility study on Beach Corridor light-rail line between downtown Miami and Miami Beach Convention Center, estimated cost $532 million.
*All information from agency's presentation Jan. 9 at NRC's annual conference