Flatiron recently began a project in Fullerton, California, that will have a major impact on future traffic flow.
In May 2014, Flatiron was awarded a $46.4 million contract to perform a grade separation on Raymond Avenue. This grade separation will allow traffic to pass under the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainline railway that essentially divides the City of Fullerton in half, increasing the safety of future commuters and reducing travel delays.
Explaining the importance of this project for the city, project manager Sean Tarp stated, “There are two rails on the main track alignment, and you can expect 38 to 40 trains coming through each day with an average time that pedestrians or vehicles are asked to stop between 12 and 15 minutes for each train. Basically, all traffic between the parts of the city has to stop at these tracks every time.”
In order to perform the grade separation, the railroad tracks have to be realigned. To allow that to happen, Flatiron has to install two soldier-pile retaining walls that run the entire length of the project. These retaining walls, currently in progress, involve the installation of soldier piles directly in the earth with concrete panels placed between them to retain the soil. Once the retaining walls are in place, work will shift to the railroad track realignment.
This project offers its own unique set of safety challenges to the crews involved.
“In addition to the daytime rail use, there are 25 trains that arrive each night. You’re looking at 65 trains in a 24-hour period with our team working as close as 12 feet to live track,” explained Sean.
The project team has to stop work for each train that comes through, and there are two to four safety engineers-in-charge on the site continuously working with the team on safety.
Another unique aspect to this project is the sheer size of some of the project elements. Each soldier pile used in the retaining wall construction is six feet in length, and 900 total soldier piles will be used upon completion of the work. In addition, the project will require shipping enormous quantities of forged steel through the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest port in the United States when measured by volume.
Construction on this project is expected to last three and a half years, with a scheduled completion in late 2016.