‘Railway’ Tag

Reclaimed Railroad Trestle

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is an old railroad trestle that has been converted into a pedestrian bridge. This particular bridge is part of a trail called the Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail, a state park in Michigan. The trail is part of a large network of trails across the country that are built from retired railroad lines. These trails exist due in large part to the effort of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. These trails offer a great way to explore reclaimed natural environments and to stay fit by either walking, running, or biking the trails. More can be found about the about the Rails to Trails Conservancy and the trails that are part of the network here.

Locomotives used on Railroad Network

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is a pair of machines that use one of the most widespread civil engineering systems in the world: the railroad network. These machines are known as locomotives and run on diesel fuel to transport everything from coal, to livestock, to people on the thousands of miles of track that comprise the rail network. Locomotives today are mainly diesel-electric in nature. That is, they burn diesel fuel in an internal combustion engine which turns a generator to make electricity. This electricity is then used to power motors connected to the wheels. This power system is advantageous because no transmission, a complicated mechanical component, is needed to transfer the power from the diesel engine to the wheels.

Railroad Embankment Failure

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

Pictured here is the aftermath of an embankment failure. The spring of 2011 has brought record amounts of rain to the midwest, and this rain has to go someplace. This railroad track in Ann Arbor was supported by approximately 30ft of earth and aggregate embankment. Water from rain runoff flows along side the embankment, and slowly infiltrates into the ground. However, with all the rain this spring, the water wasn’t able to infiltrate quickly enough and a pond formed. This pond of water had the strength to push approximately 2000 CYD of earth and trees onto the adjacent Plymouth Rd. It left nearly 200 ft of railroad track suspended like a roller-coaster about 25ft above the washed-out ground. Fortunately, no trains were scheduled to use the track before emergency personnel were notified and responded to the situation.

Bridge Week!: Steel Draw Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Featured today is a bascule bridge, often called a drawbridge, which carries rail traffic over the Rogue River near Detroit, Michigan. A bascule bridge allows the operators to lift the main span out of the way of the river when large ships need to gain access upstream. The bridge works by using a large counterweight to displace the weight of the span. The use of a counterweight allows for relatively easy opening and closing because less energy is needed per motion than if the motors of the bridge needed to raise and lower the total weight of the bridge all by themselves.

Bridge Week!: Steel Railroad Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

This is a classic example of a steel railroad bridge. This bridge is constructed of built up members of steel and is simply supported. Look closely on the left side of the span and an actual hinge can be seen. This hinge allows the span to rotate freely, but will inhibit any vertical and translational motion. Simply supported beams allow for a simplified analysis as well as very predictable behavior under loading conditions.

Railroad Bridge over Road

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is a railroad bridge that crosses a busy highway in Muskegon, Michigan. Although seldom thought about by the general public, without bridges like this one the transportation infrastructure that makes up American would be much less efficient. Image having to stop at an intersection like this one for a train while driving 70 MPH on the freeway!

Railroad Yard

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is a rail road yard from the air. This particular rail road yard is located near Chicago, Illinois and contains several hundred rail cars at any given time. Rail road yards like this one are used to assemble the individual cars to form long trains and get those trains ready for their journeys. With a nationwide push for rail systems to move both freight and people, rail transport is likely to grow in the future.

Railroad Tracks

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is a classic railroad track from anywhere in the United States. Trains’ ability to move vast amounts of cargo very efficiently across large distances make them very desirable for cross country shipping. Civil engineering systems, such as bridges and roads, are crucial to keep these mega machines moving. Without bridges, retaining structures, and access roads the rail system in the United States would grind to a screeching halt. As high speed rail systems are built in America the rail infrastructure will undoubtedly change and grow over the coming years and decades.

Steel Rail Road Bridge with Concrete Piers

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

This is a steel rail road bridge over the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It has concrete piers which is typical of bridges of this type. Concrete is excellent in compression, widely available throughout the world, and relatively affordable. For these reasons concrete is used for many civil engineering applications.