Archive for April, 2011

Tunnel clean-up and Verizon cable damage.

    Tunnel Clean-Up

I was planning a Spring Tunnel Clean-up Day, but thanks to our friend Jim Brannon aka “Santa”, it won’t be necessary. Jim organized the work Friday, with his little “Green Tractor” and the help of two young men, Lance and Christian donating time for their Community Service. Lance and Christian cleared the drains, squeegeed the accumulated water, then swept and blew out the entire tunnel. The tunnel was looking a bit shabby after our long winter and with the current higher humidity, water was already starting to accumulate in the tunnel. By the next day the tunnel was looking great.

Tunnel Clean-up.

Tunnel Clean-up.

I arrived a bit later and helped with cleaning up the leaves, rock and debris along the North side of the west entrance and in the rock sitting area. I don’t know how many times we filled up the bucket of Jim’s tractor, but I bet it was at least a dozen…(I should have gotten a picture). I did get some picture the next day.

Tunnel, West Entrance.

Tunnel, West Entrance.

Rock sitting area.

Rock sitting area.

Verizon Cable Replacement
During the recent storm the Verizon fiber segment between Mc Pherson Church Rd and the Brushy Mountain Tunnel was struck by lightning three times requiring replacement of the cable. I went up Friday to see what they were doing and to make sure they planned on restoring the drainage. I don’t like mud on the trail.

Verizon cable replacement.

Verizon cable replacement.

Hazardous RxR crossing on the Silver Comet Trail

Background: After posting the previous story about the hazardous condition of the RxR crossings on the Silver Comet Trail, I had several responses from Facebook readers that had crashed, or been involved with bicycle crashes on the RxR tracks on Old Cedartown Rd.  I thought this warranted additional investigation.

Summary:  Based on analysis of track angle from Google Maps photos I found that the CSX track crossed Old Cedartown Rd at an approximate 25° skew angle.   The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)  2010 Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Bicycle Facilities, states the  “If the skew angle is less than 45°, special attention should be given to the bikeway alignment to improve the angle of approach, preferably to 60° or greater, so bicyclists can avoid  catching their wheels in the flange and losing their balance.” The skew angle of the CSX RxR tracks on Old Cedartown Rd exceed the minimum suggested skew angle for un-improved rail flanges by 40°.   As part of this report I have a prepared a suggested approach to correct this problem, which will have a minimal impact on local vehicular traffic and marginal cost to implement.

The CSX RxR crossing on Old Cedartown Rd tracks are oriented at an excessive skew angle and pavement is in poor condition. Very hazardous to bicycle traffic, especially considering that this crossing is part of a recreational trail which would be used by children or seniors that would not be reasonably expected to have special training to cross such hazards safely.

(Click images to enlarge)

RxR crossing OldCedartown Rd.

RxR crossing OldCedartown Rd.

To determine the skew angle of the railroad tacks I used a computer to analyze the relative angles from a Google Maps image.  The image from Google Maps is shown below.

RxR-OldCedartown Rd Map

RxR-OldCedartown Rd Map

I color annotated the map image:  blue is the Silver Comet Trail, green is Old Cedartown Rd, dashed-red is the railroad.

To determine the skew angle of the railroad tacks I used a computer to analyze the relative angles from a Google Maps image.  I rotated an orange line segment that was coincident with the road, to align with the tracks.  The rotation was 25°.

RxR, Old Cedartown Rd skew angle.

RxR, Old Cedartown Rd skew angle.

Clearly, the current design needs to be fixed.  An ideal crossing angle would be 90°. I rotated the orange line perpendicular to the tracks and aligned it with the north entrance to the Silver Comet Trail. This approximates an ideal crossing situation; shortest distance and perpendicular to the tracks.

RxR, OldCedartown Rd Crossing,  Improved

RxR, OldCedartown Rd Crossing, Improved

If a concrete ramp and pad were added to the south entrance to the Silver Comet Trail (yellow line), it would significantly shorten the distance traveled on public roads and provide an improved crossing situation for the railroad tracks. Also the addition of a HiRail pad for the pedestrian and bicycle traffic would create an ideal and safe crossing.

HiRAIL Rubber Grade Crossing

HiRAIL Rubber Grade Crossing

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