Signs of Construction: Keeping the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail on track
The Aurora Line/I-225 Rail would not be a rail line without track. There will be more than 10 miles of track laid in both directions for this new light rail line. The rail used on this project is referred to as 115 pound rail, meaning it weighs 115 pounds per every three feet. 115 pound rail is used almost exclusively for light rail, while 136 pound rail is used for freight and commuter trains. Commuter rail trains will be used on the East Rail Line to Denver International Airport.
Rail is installed along Abilene Street
All rails on a given track are 4 feet to 8-and-a-half feet apart no matter what kind of train. Currently on the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail, crews have placed about 25% of the track.
Most of the track on the I-225 Rail Line is ballasted track, which means the track sits on concrete ties that are placed in ballast. The ballast is 2.5-inch rock that allows for water to drain away and acts as a shock absorber. Ballasted track is the most common type of track and is very cost effective.
On some bridges, generally over 400 feet in length, the track is built on top of concrete blocks called plinths. This type of track work is called direct fixation. Direct fixation track is used on long spans to reduce weight. In some cases it is used at grade where the track may be located in a flood plain where ties and ballast could potentially be under water.
Additionally, paved track is ballasted track with concrete poured from the top of the tie to top of rail. This type of track is used in curved roadway crossings, and is generally less noticeable to the traveling public as they drive across it.
After the track is placed, a tamper machine is used to align the rail horizontally and vertically, while it simultaneously compacts the ballast underneath the tie to keep the track from settling. The tamping process happens multiple times throughout the rail construction and is a vital step in producing a safe and efficient track for the commuters of Aurora.
A tamper machine aligns the track during installation
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