Materials stockpiled in Meriden, Wallingford reflect commuter rail project’s scope

Materials stockpiled in Meriden, Wallingford reflect commuter rail project’s scope


MERIDEN — The 21,000 concrete railroad ties stockpiled in the Amtrak rail yard on State Street make it easier to grasp the scope of construction along the CTrail Hartford Line corridor.

The $639 million project is updating the rail corridor to include double tracking and facilitate more frequent commuter trains between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield. The corridor crosses through many cities and towns, including Wallingford, Berlin and North Haven, as well as Meriden.

The concrete ties being stored at the rail yard in Meriden will be used to build a second track in the central Connecticut area, said John Bernick, assistant rail administrator for the state Department of Transportation.

New wood ties on the existing track were installed in 2010, Bernick said.

“So those are in good shape and have a lot of life left in them,” he said.

Concrete ties are a less expensive alternative to the wooden ties and have a longer life, according to Bernick.

People traveling the area have also likely noticed another stockpile of material along Route 5 in Wallingford. Large piles of gravel and other material are stored on the property. The area is used to process material that was excavated out of the existing railroad bed where the second track will be installed, Bernick said.

“The material consists of the old ballast (stone material that supports the ties) and finer material that has accumulated over the years,” he said. While the finer sand can’t be reused, the stone can.

Separating the fine sand from the larger stone allows the larger stone to be reused on the second track roadbed as sub-ballast, which Bernick defined as “a sub layer of crushed stone that contributes to the overall ability of the roadbed to support the weight of the train.”

“The remaining fine material is then trucked off and disposed of,” Bernick said. “This was a cost-saving measure that reduced the amount of excess material that needed to be disposed of.”

Laying the second track will also be a feat. A track construction machine will be used that places the concrete ties on a previously prepared roadbed at precisely spaced intervals, per Amtrak standards, Bernick said.

“The ties are continuously fed from rail cars by a self-propelled gantry system that distributes the ties to the conveyor system,” he explained. “The continuous welded rail that was previously placed on the roadbed is threaded through guides on the machine and placed on the tie plates and then clipped into place.” Amtrak crews then follow, distributing ballast, tamping, and preparing the final surface, Bernick said.

Motorists have been affected by road closures or partial closures related to the rail work. In Meriden, Gypsy Lane is closed to through-traffic while crews update tracks on a bridge that crosses the road.

Work scheduled at grade crossings in Wallingford will also impact traffic while crews install new drainage systems, sidewalks, and signs.

Crews will work on the grade crossing at North Plains Highway first. From Monday, April 25, to Friday, April 29, the street will be restricted to one-way alternating traffic between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. That weekend, a portion of the road will be closed and a detour will be in effect from 8 p.m. April 29 until 4 p.m. May 2.

Next up is Pent Highway, which will follow a similar traffic pattern. One-way alternating traffic will be in effect during working hours from May 16 to 20. That weekend, a detour will be in effect from 8 p.m. May 20 to 4 p.m. May 23.

Crews will work on grade crossings at Quinnipiac Street after that. One-way alternating traffic will be in place from June 13 to 17 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, and a detour will be in effect from 8 p.m. June 17 through 4 p.m. June 20.

Hall Avenue is the final work area. One-way alternating traffic will be in place from June 20 to 24 during working hours, and a detour will run from 8 p.m. June 24 until 4 p.m. June 27. 203-317-2279 Twitter: @MollCal

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