Saturday, June 9, 2018

CREATE: WA4 BNSF's "horseshoe" or "panhandle" project

The CREATE WA4 project is basically adding the red route on the image below. They expect 22 trains to use this route. The route joins BNSF's former CB&Q route (blue) with BNSF's former Santa Fe route (yellow). Hopefully, this means that J.B .Hunt's freight, which is in Santa Fe's Corwith yard, and UPS's freight, which is at Santa Fe's Willow Springs Yard, can use steel, instead of rubber, wheels to get to Cicero for the intermodal trains going to Saint Paul. The shape of the route between the Cicero and Corwith yards shows why one nickname for this project is "horseshoe." In this posting, I learned that this new route is evidently called the Panhandle Line because it uses the Western Avenue Corridor space that was freed up when the Pennsy's Panhandle was abandoned.

Satellite plus Paint
The Panhandle "space" included the western two spans of the scissors or 8-track bridge.


The current (2018) satellite image is the same one I captured in 2016.
3D Satellite
But then I remembered that the street views tend to be more recent. It shows the bridge work is done.
Street View from I-55, Nov 2017
Fred Van Dorpe commented on a posted question concerning the status of the construction:
Its mostly done, or all done. The track is laid I know. The crossovers where it crosses the CN Freeport sub might not be done yet.


20160416 2300
While I was railfanning at Cicero's Metra station on April 16, 2016, I took a photo of every J.B. Hunt container I saw go buy because it indicated that they were using rubber, instead of steel, wheels between Corwith and Cicero. Hopefully the Panhandle Line will let them deliver cuts of loaded well cars from the other intermodal yards rather than dumping more trucks on the city streets. I arrived at Cicero at 12:57. I didn't see the first truck until 1:13. Then I saw seven more before I left the area at 1:46. Obviously, a deadline for a departing train was approaching.



As usual, the CREATE status page is an embarrassment. It shows WA4 as still in construction. But it also shows the four 75th corridor projects in the first phase of planning. But I know the final design has been done for a while. And I read just this week that the Feds have finally granted the money needed to start construction.

May 30, 2019:   ProgressiveRail basically copied the press release. Railway Age did add the following map. Trains Mag was payware.

Railway Age

WA4_Completion

BNSF Railway along with the CREATE partners are pleased to announce the completion of the BNSF Connection project (WA4). This project eliminates train delays by adding new tracks and creating a new direct connection between BNSF’s Corwith and Cicero Yards. It also provides new connections between the CN Freeport Subdivision and the Western Avenue Corridor along which the BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and Union Pacific Railroads operate. Before this project, freight trains had to travel longer and more indirect routings to make these connections.
The BNSF Connection project also rehabilitated six bridges over city streets and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, installed crossover switches and centralized traffic control signalization. These improvements directly benefit the Chicago communities of Douglas Park, South Lawndale, Little Village and Brighton Park by renewing old railroad viaduct structures and reducing train idling and the time it takes for trains to pass by. The improvements also provide network benefits for freight and commuter train operations throughout the Chicago region by allowing trains going to and from many other lines to pass through this corridor with less delay.
With the completion of this BNSF Connection project, half of the eight CREATE projects along the Western Avenue Corridor are now in service.
“As the nation’s rail hub, it’s important that Chicago maintains a world class railroad system designed to meet the growing demands of both freight and passenger rail,” said Jason Jenkins, BNSF Railway’s Chicago Division General Manager. “Completing CREATE’s Western Avenue Corridor Project will support more fluid railroad operations.”
[WA4_Completion]

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