March 8, 2013

Metro Celebrates Completion of $10 Million UMSL South Metrolink Station Interlocking Project

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UMSL South Metrolink Station Interlocking

Metro is celebrating the completion of a special construction project that will reduce operations and maintenance costs, and more effectively maintain the rail system while shortening delays for customers during scheduled and unplanned service disruptions.

This morning, Metro representatives and others gathered to commemorate the completion of a $10 million light rail interlocking project near the UMSL South MetroLink Station. As Metro President and CEO John Nations made the project completion announcement today, he was joined by Mokhtee Ahmad, Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator for Region 7, UMSL Chancellor Tom George, Metro Board of Commissioners Chairman David Dietzel, and Bill Ray– Special Assistant to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.

Kicking off in fall 2011, the construction project involved the installation of a new universal crossover between North Hanley and Page, allowing trains to cross from one track to the other. The construction of the new interlocking system will give Metro the ability to support single track operations and operate with shorter customer delays during scheduled and unplanned service disruptions. Prior to the construction of the UMSL South crossover, the closest interlocking system was four miles away. Any work that needed to be completed to the tracks had to be scheduled after service hours or with the use of bus shuttles.

In addition to the construction of the interlocking system, work on the project included the building of a sidewalk, a new access road and signal house and significant drainage improvements adjacent to the alignment. Funded by approximately $8.5 million dollars in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal economic stimulus funds, $1.1 million in other federal funding and $289,000 in local financing, the project helped to create 270 jobs.


Metro President and CEO John Nations

“Today was a very special day as we formally celebrated the completion of this important project along our MetroLink alignment,” said Nations. “This new interlocking system not only represents a $10 million investment in the economy, but is also playing an important role in Metro’s mission to improve our regional infrastructure and build a better transit system for the citizens of the St. Louis region.”

Contractors who worked on the interlocking project included R.V. Wagner, Railworks, Progress Rail, Midvale Electric, Herzog Technologies, Wissehr Electric and Stantec.

Metro also utilized its own skilled workforce to assist with various elements of the project, helping to reduce costs and accomplish the original scope of the project within the allowable time frame for expending ARRA funds. “We applaud members of our own skilled workforce who stepped up to assist with several elements of the project,” said Nations. “Among those I’d like to recognize from Metro are Chris Poehler—Senior Vice President Engineering and New Systems Development, Fred Bakarich—Director of Capital Projects, Vera Cavato—Senior Project Manager Engineering, the engineering team, Kelly Hamm—Director of Maintenance of Way, Scott Grott—Director MetroLink Operations, Trent Smith—Director of Rail Systems and Tracy Beidleman—Director of Program Development and Grants.”

We would like to thank our customers for their patience during the construction and technical testing of the new UMSL South Interlocking. Metro is very proud this important project was completed on time and on budget.

Click here to view more pictures.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

6 thoughts on “Metro Celebrates Completion of $10 Million UMSL South Metrolink Station Interlocking Project”

  1. CraigDanger says:

    $10 million gets you 30 foot of curved track, and one of those long-handled switch thingys that Bugs Bunny used to send Elmer Fudd down the wrong track. Slow clap, Metro. Slow clap.

    1. chelseybrooks says:

      Craig, a total of 270 workers played a role in delivering this project to the region. Crews installed a universal crossover between North Hanley and Page, creating a new interlocking system that will allow MetroLink to switch from one track to the other. Additional work on the project included: a new signal house, new access road, a new sidewalk, and drainage improvements adjacent to the alignment. The project took 15 months to construct and was completed on time and on budget.

      1. CraigDanger says:

        Not running over-time and over-budget is certainly commendable, if the budget was designed competitively and not just grabbing public money. If I built a 30-foot road, took eight months and spent $20 million to do it that’d be met with outrage. But, if I told you the budget was $25 million and projected schedule was one year, suddenly it looks good.

        $10 million for some bent track, a prefab shed, a logic switch, some grading, a short road and a sidewalk seems steep.

        I want public transportation to be successful in this town, and boarded and arrived at that station when I went to school there and lived in the CWE. But for people to support Metro, they need to see efficiency.

    2. Adam Woodson says:

      for the love of god, people, stop complaining about things that you know nothing about and go do something productive.

      1. Actually he makes good points. Why was such a large amount of money burnt on one single Link station when the vast majority of the area continues to be underserved by transit? I live no farther out than St. Charles in Missouri and the only transit we have are three one direction buses in the AM and three in the PM during barely more than an hour window. Need transportation outside that window you’re SOL. Yet my taxpayer dollars goes to fund a system that I can’t even use? Makes no sense. That 10 million would have done wonders to bring real bus service to my area.

        1. chelseybrooks says:

          Per Metro’s Chief of Planning & System Development:

          The interlocking track recently installed near the UMSL South MetroLink Station allows Metro to operate trains on both tracks during periods of construction, repair, and service disruption due to breakdowns, ill passengers, etc. Metro has installed several interlocking tracks since MetroLink’s opening at places near the Eads Bridge, Fairview Heights, IL and Downtown St. Louis. These interlocking tracks are critical for maintaining operations while performing work on one track. For example, right now we are replacing wood rail ties between the Wellston and UMSL South MetroLink Stations. Without the UMSL interlocking track we would be operating bus bridges (buses operating between stations in lieu of trains) every evening after 8pm. With the interlocking track, we are able to shorten the required single-tracking distance and time, thus making maintenance possible while minimizing the impact to Metro customers. Ideally these interlocking tracks would have been installed in the early 1990’s when MetroLink was first constructed, however the region had very limited local, state and federal funding to support these features and they were postponed. Now that the MetroLink system is aging (the original alignment turns 20 years old this year), we must perform the type of critical system maintenance described above.

          Regarding expansion of MetroLink into St. Charles County or elsewhere in the region, there are several potential expansion options under consideration. However, Metro’s first responsibility is to maintain the existing system in a “state of good repair”, so we must perform the maintenance work described above. Secondly, any expansion requires that funding be available at the local, state and federal levels to support the capital cost of construction and ongoing operations and maintenance costs. The typical starting cost for light rail expansion is about $60 million per mile, so expansions that would cover great distances such as into St. Charles County are quite costly.

          Finally, St. Charles County is not within Metro’s current service area. St. Charles County does not participate in collecting any sales tax proceeds to support the Metro System, as is done by the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. There is very little funding support provided to the Metro System by the State of Missouri. Any expansion into St. Charles County (or other counties not currently served) would require political action and creation of a funding source by these jurisdictions.

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