American Railroads

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On this summer day, a surfacing gang was raising the outside rail on a curve between the road and St. John’s River, and a nondescript rural lane named Brick Yard Road in Orange Park, which, on CSX, is MP662.6.
New continuous welded rail was installed earlier this year. Passenger trains travel at 70 mph through here when the track is spiffy, but the trains had been traveling at less than that for some time. Speed restrictions, you know.
Foreman Mike Hawkins was in charge of the job this day, and signal maintainer Derek Trkula lowered the crossing gates across the country road when the tamper had to pass over the grade crossing.
The gang got permission to open up the switch at the north end of a passing siding at Solite, about three miles south of where they would be working, and traveled north to the work site.
After they were set up, a man following just behind the lead working machine leaned over frequently to check how level the track was.
The tamper lifted the rails a few inches, high enough for the tampers to drive their way down a couple of feet to redistribute the ballast and provide new track support, then moved ahead, one tie at a time. A ballast regulator followed behind grading the ballast and making it neater.
After a few passes, their work was done, and they went away.
The last speed restriction was lifted early the next day, at 12:30 a.m., after the required number of trains passed over the curve without incident.

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