Portraying the various types of work and special challenges that occur along the rails of the Alaska Railroad
Night Shift of the Tunnel Rehab Crew - In the late 1980's it became
obvious that something drastic had to be done with the track inside
the long Whittier Tunnel on the Door 2 end. The ballast section was
nothing but mud from all of the water seeping in and track surface
could not be maintained. Bid quotations were solicited from private
contractors and when the costs came back in, they were exorbitant.
The General Roadmaster at the time, Jim Carr, said "we can do
it ourselves for a lot less money." That began one of the biggest
internal track projects undertaken with internal forces on the Alaska
Railroad. Two separate crews worked 12 hour shifts for 7 days straight
and removed and replaced a mile of track from Door 2 back toward Whittier.
To start the project, the existing staggered joints were "squared
up." Then a large excavator was offloaded in the tunnel and used
to pick up the panels, put them on two track lowboys hooked to a locomotive
crane. The crane then took the panels out to a work pad built in Bear
Valley where the panels were unloaded for disassembly and new panels
built using new ties/plates and the existing rail.