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BNSF converts Kansas City traffic-control tower into modern 'point'


After spending a year planning it and three months preparing for it, Burlington Northern Santa Fe recently spent two days converting Ustick Tower in Kansas City, Mo., into Ustick Control Point.

On Dec. 3 and 4, BNSF rerouted about 80 trains to enable crews to upgrade Ustick's signal system and track structures.

Signal workers installed eight high-speed switch machines and 14 color-light signals. Maintenance-of-way crews removed two puzzle switches, six turnouts, 1,600 feet of connecting tracks and 1,650 tons of ballast; relocated two turnouts; and installed five turnouts, one rail crossing, 1,100 feet of connecting track, 1,800 tons of ballast and 450 tons of walkway material.

Crews also replaced 14 panels comprising more than 300 bridge ties on the Hannibal Bridge, and installed new bridge walkways and handrails.

Ustick Tower, which was first signalized in 1948, had become dilapidated, according to a prepared statement. In the past, a control operator located on the tower's third floor manipulated the signals and switches, and communicated with train crews.

The work enabled BNSF to convert Ustick into a more reliable traffic-control system contained in a 10-by-12-foot metal bungalow, the railroad said. Modern color-light signals and conventional switches can automatically respond to one of 38 routing requests from BNSF's Kansas City dispatch center.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/11/2002