Long Bridge Project

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orulz
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Location: Raleigh, NC

Long Bridge Project

Post by orulz »

The public meeting where they release the preferred alternative for the Long Bridge project is this Thursday, November 29th 2018. This could apply to CSX, Amtrak, or VRE so I'm posting it here.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invite the public to an informational meeting to present the Preferred Alternative for the Long Bridge Project. FRA and DDOT are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for the Project to consider alternatives and evaluate the potential impacts of those alternatives on the environment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. This meeting is also a part of the concurrent consultation for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

WHEN: Thursday, November 29, 2018
Open House format from 4PM to 7PM
Formal presentations at 4:30PM and 6:00PM (same presentation at both times)

WHERE: DCRA Building, Room E200, 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. Room E200 is located on the second floor of the DCRA building adjacent to the elevators. Bring an ID to show at the entrance in order to access the building.

Access via Metrorail: Waterfront Station – Green Line. Take the escalator/elevator to the ground level and walk straight; the building will be on your right. Note, there will be no Yellow Line service on November 29th, so please plan accordingly.

Access via bus: Metrobus routes 74, A9, P6, and V1; Circulator Eastern Market-L’Enfant Plaza route.
At this point, the only alternatives remaining are:
(1) Build a new bridge upstream of the current one and keep the old one, or
(2) Build a new bridge upstream of the current one and then tear down and replace the old one.

If the existing bridge is in decent shape (good enough to last another 40 years or so) I see nothing wrong with keeping it around for now. It was last overhauled in the 1940s which is not too old by railroad bridge standards. The Potomac River at Washington DC is tidal but has low salt content; I am not sure what implications that has regarding bridge materials. Really to me, it is inconsequential which alternative is chosen.

However, you review the EIS appendixes, there is one very consequential matter that apparently has not been decided, although I'm not sure if it is even within the scope of the EIS at all. That is, whether to build the overland alignment within DC with 13' or 15' track centers. 13' centers can fit neatly under the Maryland Avenue deck and use all the existing underpasses and overpasses from there to the tunnel portal - all that is required is a very modest relocation of a single retaining wall.15' centers will require reconstructing all of the above which would be expensive and disruptive - probably more expensive than building the bridge over the river itself. I am not sure what the implications of 13' vs 15' would be as far as operations is concerned, but it seems to me that the decision to go with 13' should be obvious. I am not sure what has caused the 15' option to even be on the table. If it is CSX trying to accommodate wider loads, I hope they will pay the difference in cost. If it is for a modest speed increase for passenger trains my feeling is they should just forget it and deal with slightly slower trains, at least until all those bridges age out and have to be replaced anyway.

mtuandrew
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by mtuandrew »

Moderator’s Note: this is important enough to have its own thread, I think.

mmi16
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by mmi16 »

Rebuilding the Long Bridge is a project for the FUTURE!...13 foot track centers are limits of the past. If you are building for the FUTURE 15 foot track centers are the only way to go.

We know how rail equipment has grown in size from the period when the Long Bridge was built, and grown again since it was rebuilt. I rebuilding the Long Bridge today, you are trying to look at what will be normal railroading in 2070 and beyond.
Never too old to have a happy childhood!

orulz
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by orulz »

The alternative is chosen: Keep the existing Long Bridge for freight traffic and build a new one for the dedicated use of passenger trains. The cost? 1.3 billion. A pedestrian crossing will be on a completely separate structure and be a completely independent project.

For the life of me I can't figure out why it has been so hard to do anything with Long Bridge.

The study process was funded in 2011 and kicked off in 2012. Seven years, volumes of reports, and dozens of public meetings later, we have just now finally picked an alternative. This is the first tangible sign of progress. Other than this, we have gotten EXACTLY nowhere. It's taken this long of an insane dog-and-pony show to finally arrive at the alternative that any reasonably informed person could have spent five minutes determining on day one. There is no funding for design or construction. There is no agreement in place with the freight railroads.

This is a reason why infrastructure costs are so high in the US. Dare I say it, it's THE reason. We spend millions of dollars to hire armies of well-paid consultants who spend YEARS studying stuff, listenening to every little interest group whine, moan, and beg to receive some sort of payout and make unreasonable demands for every conceivable type of scope creep. And this happens for EVERY. SINGLE. PROJECT.

The contractors' only incentive is to make the process more and more complicated, drawing it out as much as they can so they can milk it for as much money as possible. It's bad, really really bad. Anyone can see that. But hey, that's just how we do business here in the good old US of A.

The process is so bad, in fact, that I consider us LUCKY at this point that the chosen alternative is actually the one that makes sense. Quite often, the reasonable alternatives get screened out due to some byzantine process, obscure regulation, cut corner, interfering politician, or shady backroom deal, leaving only bloated, featherbedded, gold plated, and functionally compromised loads of crap on the table.

On the other hand, think of what the process for this would have been if this were in China.
First, identify the questions that really matter:

1. Should the existing long bridge (last rebuilt in 1942) be overhauled to last another 75 years, or should it be replaced?

2. Should the new tracks be added upstream or downstream of the old ones?

To answer question 1, they would have sent an inspection team to the old bridge if it had been a while. Figure, generously, a month for them to inspect, estimate the costs of overhaul versus replacement, and render a verdict. Or more probably, they would have just referenced the report written by the team who did the last full inspection. Once that question is answered, they would have probably assigned a single engineer to spend a week analyzing the alternatives (upstream vs downstream) and recommending one, which would have been promptly rubber stamped by Party officials, moving it into full design immediately, with construction underway in less than a month. For a bridge like this the construction process would last 18 months.

The really aggravating part is that we actually still know how to do things quickly and efficiently. With our backs against the wall and presented with the opportunity to short-circuit all the bureaucracy, we wind up with things like the new I-35W bridge in Minneapolis: completed well under budget and well ahead of schedule, from collapse to open in less than a year, with a clean, open, and efficient process that even puts China to shame.

Also, why is this project so expensive?? It's just building a new two track railroad bridge. They built the new two track bridge over Quantico Creek at Possum Point back in 2007 for $26 million. Then they That bridge was 500m long compared to 800m for Long Bridge, and Long Bridge includes expanding or replacing a few smaller spans over highways, but' I'm not seeing where the 5000% cost difference could possibly come from. Is it a little more constrained? Perhaps, but the Quantico Creek bridge was put up right next to the existing single track RF&P bridge so they didn't have unlimited space to work with there, either. Those costs would be a bit more understandable (if still excessive) if it did in fact involve tearing out Maryland Avenue, but I don't think it does. Where is the money going to go? What's so hard about this project?

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Sand Box John
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by Sand Box John »

Here is my proposal on how to execute the adding of two tracks to the bridge.

The existing bridge is roughly 2,540' long not including the two spans over the George Washington Parkway. The bridge is composed of 22 through plate girder spans resting on 22 piers and 2 abutments. The shipping channel through truss swing span rests on 3 piers, 2 of which are shared with the adjacent through plate girder spans.
  • 1: Extend the existing piers and abutments including the piers and abutments over the George Washington Parkway upstream 18' and downstream 18'. Extend the existing piers and abutments over DC I-395, Ohio Drive and the Washington Chanel down stream to twice their width. Extend the existing piers and abutments over Main Avenue to allow the widening of the deck to four tracks.
  • 2: Begin and complete land side grading from the portals east of Maine Avenue to RO interlocking. The third and fourth tracks would be on the south side of the existing tracks from Maine Avenue to south of DC I-395 where it would transition to one track upstream and one track downstream to RO interlocking.
  • 3: After the completion of the river crossing piers and abutments widening are done. New bearing plates would be fitted downstream of the center line of the piers and abutments to allow the existing river crossing and George Washington Parkway bridge spans to be lifted and moved onto the new downstream bearing plates. Preparation for the temporary shoe fly to connect to the relocate river crossing and George Washington Parkway bridge spans at both end would be done.
  • 4: Close the bridge to traffic for a period of roughly 36 hours to allow the moving of the existing river crossing and George Washington Parkway bridge spans to the new downstream bearing plates. Connect the temporary shoe fly at both ends and reopen to traffic
Before you begin saying this is a ridiculous idea. It has been done not once but twice on highway bridge projects in the Washington area. A bridge just under half the length of Long Bridge was moved onto temporary piers an abutments in Manassas Va to allow a new bridge to be built in the foot print of the old bridge. Another bridge was moved onto temporary piers and abutments on MD-4 in Upper Marlboro MD. I was present on the site when this move was done. Four lanes of traffic were maintained during the entire 3 year duration of the bridge replacement project. Only two closings were done, 36 hours in the northbound direction only during the bridge move and overnight to change the shoe fly from the northbound to southbound. in both of these projects the moved bridges were demolished after the new bridges were opened to traffic.
  • 5: Fabricate and and set the spans for the two new tracks on the upstream half of the of the river crossing and George Washington Parkway piers and abutments. Fabricate and and set the spans on the DC I-395, Ohio Drive and the Washington Chanel piers and abutments.
  • 5: Realigned the tracks from the portals to Maine Avenue, realigned the tracks from DC I-395 south abutment to north river crossing abutment, realigned the tracks from west George Washington Parkway abutment RO interlocking.
If the project ends up involving the demolishing and replacement of the moved river crossing and or George Washington Parkway spans with new, that would be done after shifting traffic to the new upstream spans and realigned the tracks as mentioned in 5 above.

Pedestrian crossing would be cantilevered from bearing plates on the downstream side of the river crossing and George Washington Parkway piers.
John in the sand box of Maryland's eastern shore.

orulz
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by orulz »

They decided against expanding the old bridge for sound reasons IMO. The piers mostly date to 1904 or so. Also passenger rail having it's own dedicated two tracks over the Potomac is beneficial because things can be done (trackwork, electrification, etc) without having to interact with CSX. CSX is also not in a mood to spend much money on upgrades so this just lets them have their bridge as is. The estimates for expanding the old bridge were similar.

But for the life of me I can't figure why this is a 1.3 billion dollar project not 100-200m.

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Sand Box John
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by Sand Box John »

"orulz"
They decided against expanding the old bridge for sound reasons IMO. The piers mostly date to 1904 or so. Also passenger rail having it's own dedicated two tracks over the Potomac is beneficial because things can be done (trackwork, electrification, etc) without having to interact with CSX. CSX is also not in a mood to spend much money on upgrades so this just lets them have their bridge as is. The estimates for expanding the old bridge were similar.

But for the life of me I can't figure why this is a 1.3 billion dollar project not 100-200m.


Enlarging the river crossing piers would likely improve their stability and extend their life.

The small footprint four track schema with crossovers at both ends would allow all of the railroads using the facility to use all of the tracks. It would also allow routine maintenance to be done on one of the tracks with little to no effect on traffic. Passenger trains would generally use the upstream tracks, freight the two downstream.

$100 to $200 million would easily cover the cost of the land side grading. The Maine Avenue, Washington Channel, Ohio Drive, DC i-395 and George Washington Parkway spans should come in somewhere between $10 and $20 million apiece. The river crossing between $200 and $300 million.
John in the sand box of Maryland's eastern shore.

mmi16
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Re: Long Bridge Project

Post by mmi16 »

Sand Box John wrote:"orulz"
They decided against expanding the old bridge for sound reasons IMO. The piers mostly date to 1904 or so. Also passenger rail having it's own dedicated two tracks over the Potomac is beneficial because things can be done (trackwork, electrification, etc) without having to interact with CSX. CSX is also not in a mood to spend much money on upgrades so this just lets them have their bridge as is. The estimates for expanding the old bridge were similar.

But for the life of me I can't figure why this is a 1.3 billion dollar project not 100-200m.


Enlarging the river crossing piers would likely improve their stability and extend their life.

The small footprint four track schema with crossovers at both ends would allow all of the railroads using the facility to use all of the tracks. It would also allow routine maintenance to be done on one of the tracks with little to no effect on traffic. Passenger trains would generally use the upstream tracks, freight the two downstream.

$100 to $200 million would easily cover the cost of the land side grading. The Maine Avenue, Washington Channel, Ohio Drive, DC i-395 and George Washington Parkway spans should come in somewhere between $10 and $20 million apiece. The river crossing between $200 and $300 million.
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