Rebuilding the Brazos River Bridge

r_i_straw Jun 8, 2016

  1. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Last week the third highest flood of historic record for the Brazos River damaged one of the piers on the old Southern Pacific Sunset Route bridge in Richmond, Texas. UP has swung into action to repair or maybe even replace the bridge. I saw some pretty hefty plate girders on trailers parked along Highway 90 this afternoon indicating that at least one of the through girder spans will be replaced. A new road has been bulldozed through the woods from Highway 90 to the bridge site on the east bank of the river and a huge crane was being assembled there this morning. This is a photo I took from behind the Richmond Fire Station this morning. More to follow as thing progress.
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  2. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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  3. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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  4. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    A lot of UP trains are coming off the UP Smithville line (ex MKT) at Sealy and heading down the BNSF to Alvin to enter Houston from the south. Here is one in Rosenberg heading south.
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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  5. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    I zoomed in on one of the photos above from this morning and can see them unloading a girder similar to the ones I saw this afternoon parked along the highway. There appears to be one already on the ground behind the worker.
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  6. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Great photos, keep 'em coming......:cool:
     
  7. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    I am in Rosenberg every day for the next two weeks holding a Summer Rail Camps for young model railroaders. Today, between modeling projects, we had quit a show. The kids drop everything whenever a train goes by to go watch. Hey, that's what it is all about anyway. We watched a KCS container train come off the Victoria Sub onto the Sunset and stop after it had cleared 3rd street in Rosenberg. After a BNSF auto rack train cleared the diamond, the KCS train backed up onto the BNSF Galveston Sub and then took off toward Galveston. Got to see that train go by three times. The kids were thrilled.
     
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wonder if this will be used as temporary support, when they lift the bridge back up?
     
  9. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Here is an illustration to show the how the rail lines go at our location.
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  10. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    No, those look pretty substantial, like they are planning to replace some if not all of the spans over the river. The bridge is well over 100 years old so maybe they just decided to go ahead and replace it all together.
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    There will definitely be substantial work required. That pier sank, so it would need to somehow be re-set or be completely replaced. I would believe the latter option.
     
  12. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    This KCS train came from Kendelton off the Victoria Sub with a locomotive on both ends. After clearing 3rd Street on the UP Sunset, the crew walked the length of the train, got in the trailing locomotive and turned the other one into the DPU. They then took off up the BNSF toward Temple and Cleburn. No telling where all they ended up before getting on their home rails again.
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  13. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    I was able to get a little closer to the work site up stream from the bridge. The big crane is going together. You can see the remains of the old wooden bents that used to hold up the trestle in between the new steel beam piles. All that used to be covered in dirt that was washed away last week.
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    This is a wide shot from down near the highway bridge behind the Fire Station.
    DSC_0008.jpg This afternoon they had the boom on the crane about finished.
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  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks like that river bank might need a bit of rip-rap work.
     
  15. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    I zoomed in on one of the photos above and noticed all the graffiti on the sides of the trestle. They used to be able to walk right up to it and have it in front of their face. Now that the river bank is gone, they will not be able to do that any more. After the water goes down it will be interesting to see how far down the water eroded the bank.
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  16. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    As the water drops, more of the defective pier and the river bank emerge. The crane is "armed and fully operational".
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  17. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    This is how it looked in 1951. As I modeled it any how. ;) It appears that they drove steel cofferdam sections around the failed pier, pulled all the dirt out and poured cement around it to stabilize it at some point in the last 60 or so years.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  18. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I wonder if the UP Hysterical Society would be interested in using your model in their corporate museum showing one of the bridge's configurations during its development over the years....?
     
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hmmm. So that cofferdam is an old work? Sounds like they knew it had troubles.
     
  20. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    It was likely repaired back when it was still Southern Pacific as I do not recall seeing the cofferdam exposed. It was all buried in the river bank when a friend and I climbed around it back in 1994. But then again, they may have done it when they replaced the wood trestle bents with steel sometime between the time when I explored it and now. I don't know when that happened as I was not paying attention all the time for the last 22 years. After I finished modeling it a lot happened.
     

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