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BNSF's Burlington Bridge

Project Highlights

  • Constructed and installed two 400-foot sections of track on a new lift span
BNSF Railway
Burlington, Iowa
Provided By

RailWorks installed two 400-foot sections of track for a total of 800 feet on a new lift span, which replaced a swing span.

Crews from RailWorks Track Services’ Chicago office took a boat daily to work on the new bridge section, constructing track on the new bridge span that straddled several barges floating side-by-side on the river. They worked for about six weeks to complete the job.

In late-December 2010, during a 30-hour rail-traffic shutdown for finalizing the job prior to operation, general contractor Ames Construction floated the lift span into place and lowered it on new piers.

Unique Features

All work on the span was done without the benefit of machinery. Once the ties were placed on the beams from above, they were distributed by hand along with the remainder of the track material. After a crane set the rail under the weld head, the rails (up to 400 feet) were pulled by hand to make room for the next rail.

Around 30 trains a day travel over the 2,200-foot Burlington Bridge, originally built in 1868 as a single-track structure. It is reportedly the first all-metal bridge to span the Mississippi River.