Railroad double crossovers

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Employees of Meyer Construction of Maple Grove, Minn. work at the site of a double crossover near Spring Lake Restaurant Tuesday morning. The double crossover will allow for trains to pass each other farther apart and with increased efficiency and safety.


High speed crossover being constructed on 

railway near County N to be one of several in the area

By Ted Pennekamp


Anyone driving on Highway 35 between Prairie du Chien and La Crosse is sure to notice construction activity at various locations along the railroad, including at the intersection of Highway 35 and County N near the Spring Lake Restaurant in the town of Eastman in Crawford County. 

A representative of Meyer Construction of Maple Grove, Minn. said that Meyer Construction has been preparing several sites for the installation of switch pads for high speed crossovers, also known as double crossovers. He said that there will be seven such crossovers between north of La Crosse and Prairie du Chien. Meyer Construction has completed its work at six of those crossovers and is currently working at the site near Spring Lake Restaurant. The Meyer Construction representative said that there will be 12 crossovers between north of La Crosse through Potosi. 

“We are installing a total of 14 double crossovers in various locations in the corridor,” said Amy McBeth of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, who noted that the 14 crossovers will be along the entire route in Wisconsin and south into Illinois, to north of Savanna. “They are in various stages of track and signal construction. The double crossovers allow trains to move from either track in either direction, providing much more flexibility and fluidity for train movements. This is an example of our investment in our infrastructure in the state to better serve all of our customers and to continue to maintain our infrastructure so we can operate safely.”

The double crossovers are part of an estimated $120 million capital program BNSF is doing in Wisconsin in 2015. The capital program was announced on Feb. 19 for rail maintenance and capacity improvement projects. U.S. railroads own and maintain their own networks, and each year BNSF allocates capital for infrastructure and expansion projects.

“This year’s substantial investments in Wisconsin are a clear reflection of how important our operations in the state are to our overall network and our unwavering commitment to always operating safely – for our people and the communities in which we operate,” said Jason Jenkins, BNSF general manager of operations Chicago Division. “We know our customers are competing in a fast-paced, global economy where a smooth, efficient supply chain can be the difference between winning and losing in the marketplace. This year’s planned expansion and maintenance projects will help give BNSF the capacity flexibility it needs to support our customers’ growing demands and connect Wisconsin products to key markets.”

BNSF’s 2015 capital projects in Wisconsin include constructing four miles of double track through La Crosse and the installation of centralized traffic control in several locations along the Aurora Subdivision. These projects will greatly improve train flows and efficiency along this route. BNSF’s maintenance program in Wisconsin will include 220 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of nearly 25 miles of rail and about 800 ties as well as signal upgrades for federally-mandated positive train control.

In addition, new sensor and signal boxes will be installed near the railroad tracks at numerous locations. Sensors on the rails monitor several factors including temperatures in and around axles and wheel brakes and dynamic axle vibrations due to corrosion and bearing wear. Sensors and signal boxes can help to get a train with a deficient axle or some other problem off of the track sooner, for example.

Amy McBeth said that on average, there are about 46 trains that are on the route through Prairie du Chien in a 24-hour period. “I don’t have a specific projection for traffic moving on that route in the future because it is market driven,” she said. “But these capacity improvement projects will help us to serve our customers and their needs.”

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