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Thread: Info on the train bridge collapse in Arizona

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Info on the train bridge collapse in Arizona

    You've all no doubt heard about the freight train derailing in AZ, collapsing the bridge into Tempe Town Lake. I cross the Valley Metro Light Rail bridge right next to it, every time I travel from the "East Valley" into Phoenix. That bridge was built in 1912, and is (or was) essentially supported by old style telephone poles, made of wood and treated with tar as a preservative. Highly flammable to say the least.

    In the late 70s, the remnants of a hurricane blew threw the area. A deluge of water had to be released from Roosevelt dam to the east, washing out every bridge from the East Valley to Phoenix. The 2 only bridges left standing over the Salt River (Rio Salado) were that freight rail bridge, and the Mill Avenue Bridge about a quarter mile east of that bridge. A traffic nightmare to be sure.

    To get to work today, I had to get off the train mid way through the journey, and hop a bus to a rail station on the other side of the fire...all in 115 degree heat. I arrived at work a half hour late, and home a full hour. The bridge will have to remain closed not just until the tanker car holding highly flammable chemicals is righted, but until every car is removed from what's left of the bridge. They can't very well have a passenger train running immediately parallel to a line of freight cars, in danger of collapsing into the lake. Getting to work the next few weeks should be loads of fun.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    I lived there in the 90s and crossed the Mill Ave bridge on the way to my guitar lessons in Tempe. The riverbed was dry back then... Looks like they really built up along the shore since then and made it a touristy spot.

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    I believe the correct response here is: Holy crap.
    Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!

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    All Things Must Pass spellbound's Avatar
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    That's terrible. And no, I had not heard about it until I spotted this thread just now.

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    I lived there in the 90s and crossed the Mill Ave bridge on the way to my guitar lessons in Tempe. The riverbed was dry back then... Looks like they really built up along the shore since then and made it a touristy spot.
    The "lake" was created by constructing 2 dams on either end. You might think it logical to fill the lake with Salt River water from Roosevelt Lake, but that's not the case. The farmers upstream own the rights to that water, because they largely funded the construction of Roosevelt Dam in the early 20th century. The lake was filled, and is refilled by Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River. The only time Salt River water finds its way to Town Lake is when Roosevelt Lake gets too full, and water must be released.

    BTW: You'd find the drive from Phoenix to Tempe far more convenient today. There's now the 202 Papago/Red Mountain Freeway running parallel to Town Lake and Salt river. There's also the 101 Pima/Price Freeway running from North Scottsdale to South Chandler. You may or may not remember in the early 90s, the 101 was exactly 2 miles between University and Southern.
    Last edited by progmatist; 07-30-2020 at 03:23 PM.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    ...and the new 303 Loop as well, right?

    As a Tucsonan, I always relish the opportunity to get lost in the ginormous Phoenix Valley.

    I have been up here a lot recently since my mom in law is terminally ill. I have been tangled up in some of the closures on 101 N and I-17 recently. Thank goodness for mapping programs and redundant surface streets!

    But yes, that train accident was terrible. The preliminary report did not really produce a smoking gun; there are more investigations coming.

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    During rush hour, surface streets are even worse than backed up freeways. At each and every intersection with a traffic signal, it takes 2, 3, 4 or more light cycles to get through. That's what makes the new light rail such a boon. There's never any traffic backup on the train tracks. It takes buses about a half hour to get through the Downtown Tempe/ASU area. The train makes it in about 5 minutes. Mind you: that's with trains obeying the traffic signals like everyone else. Light rail trains don't have any special right-of-way like freight trains do.

    The frequent closures on all freeways is to deal the with deterioration of the rubberized asphalt top layer. When they first started paving all the freeways, I wondered aloud to everyone I knew what was going to happen when it starts falling apart. Turns out, rough asphalt is even noisier than the bare concrete just beneath. That defeats whole purpose of rubberized asphalt paving...to reduce road noise.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    During rush hour, surface streets are even worse than backed up freeways. At each and every intersection with a traffic signal, it takes 2, 3, 4 or more light cycles to get through. That's what makes the new light rail such a boon. There's never any traffic backup on the train tracks. It takes buses about a half hour to get through the Downtown Tempe/ASU area. The train makes it in about 5 minutes. Mind you: that's with trains obeying the traffic signals like everyone else. Light rail trains don't have any special right-of-way like freight trains do.

    The frequent closures on all freeways is to deal the with deterioration of the rubberized asphalt top layer. When they first started paving all the freeways, I wondered aloud to everyone I knew what was going to happen when it starts falling apart. Turns out, rough asphalt is even noisier than the bare concrete just beneath. That defeats whole purpose of rubberized asphalt paving...to reduce road noise.
    Thank you; that was an excellent analysis. We in Tucson have seen the effects of the rubberized asphalt deterioration. It caused chunks to get thrown up onto other cars and cause mucho damage.

    But in Phoenix, you have the benefit of the take-charge approach that is used up there. Road work gets priority. Work happens round the clock. Things get done. In Tucson a road project takes 4 to 5 times longer. It is almost like we are in a third world nation.

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    ^^ It doesn't hurt that Phoenix is the seat of power, and Maricopa County makes up half the State's population. Everywhere else is an after thought: "Oh yeah. There are people in Tucson." "Oh yeah. There are people in Flagstaff."

    EDIT: People here are overanxious to spend transportation dollars. Not too long ago, Phoenix voters approved a measure to add a light rail segment, connecting Central & Washington/First Avenue & Jefferson to South Mountain Park. The only thing there is South Mountain Park. Everything else along the way is the industrial part of town, with a smattering of low income housing, ignored since the 1970s. People in the area do not want this rail segment. The vast majority of voters who approved it not only don't live there, they likely have never even seen what is actually there.
    Last edited by progmatist; 09-29-2020 at 04:53 PM.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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