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Western Railroad Discussion > Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction


Date: 10/21/21 19:53
Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

This post is a collection of photos from 9/1/2021 onwards showing the gradual progress of a multifaceted infrastructure project in Chicago's South Loop. The location, railroad-wise, is at the 16th St. Tower/crossing of Metra's Rock Island Line and CN's Chicago/Freeport Sub and the St. Charles Air Line. CN has an ongoing project here that has replaced bridges east of this location towards Lake Michigan, and single-tracked the Chicago Sub/Freeport Sub in the process. The road bridge seen in these photos over Clark St. is the only bridge that has yet to be replaced (except for one over Michigan Ave. that isn't as old.) The CN project also involves realigning the single main to allow 25mph speeds instead of 10mph speeds.

That hasn't happened yet, perhaps because of the second project still in process - the city's "Wells-Wentworth Connector" road project. Wentworth Ave. dead-ends at this location. The project extends it under CN and the St. Charles Air Line with an S-curve, then sends it north to connect to Wells Street. A mega-development is slated to go in the big open space between the SCAL and Roosevelt Rd. The road on that northern portion seems to be finished; but the undercut bridges beneath CN are evidentely still in progress.

Back on September 1st, CN's M337 is shown slowly heading across the giant I-beam spans that have been installed as part of the road construction. For quite awhile, a lot of KCS power was showing up on CN.
 








Date: 10/21/21 19:56
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

Next up - more of M337's train through 16th St.

Then, on October 17th, a ground level view through the construction fencing of that day's M337 heading across the temporary structure. It's weird to see such a bare-bones structure supporting normal giant trains. A KCS SD70ACe trails; I didn't think quick enough on the framing.








Date: 10/21/21 19:57
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

A couple interesting cars in the train shown on the I-beams. By this October photo date, more earth has been dug out from underneath.






Date: 10/21/21 20:00
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

Later that day, CN L536 (daily transfer, Glenn Yard to Kirk Yard) is shown at the same location with an eclectic consist. Those GT geeps really pop out! Can't be many cases where two are together anymore.








Date: 10/21/21 20:09
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

A few more "grand view" photos of this interesting area.

-Head end is heading over all the new street bridges
-Overall view looking north
-View looking southwest at the train weaving through "Cermak" where CN reduced everything to single track. I'm wondering how the 25mph goal works with this convulted arrangement. Note: tonight's L537 had 189 cars. How can a train that long even get up to 25mph through all of this? 








Date: 10/21/21 20:12
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

Last, for now: This is view from Roosevelt Road showing the megadevelopment construction site... which has a signal at the offices for some reason.




Date: 10/21/21 21:19
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: justalurker66

Thank you for posting. I was hoping you had been flying recently.
(The Prairie Neighborhood Association posted some arials earlier today on FB.)

I like the signal by the office. Someone probably found it while clearing land and decided to put it to use.



Date: 10/21/21 22:21
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: ChrisCampi

Thanks for sharing. I love all this in construction stuff.



Date: 10/22/21 07:36
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: rgzfan

There used to be a rail underpass about where the road is being built. During the early 80's, there used to be a white milk car that looked just like the Lionel version, parked north of the Air Line tracks, down in the cut. Then in about 1984, somone busted it all up. Eventually, I think the wood burned. That made me kind of sad. I wish the car had made it to IRM or something. The first time I saw it, in 1981 or 1982, it appeared to be in excellent condition. 



Date: 10/22/21 07:43
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: 3rdswitch

Excellent bunch.
JB



Date: 10/22/21 13:06
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: bobk

Nice series!



Date: 10/22/21 16:20
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: ironmtn

Excellent coverage of this project, both the aerial drone views, and the ground-level views as well. This is quite a project for CN, and your images gave a great feel for the scope of the work, as well as capturing some interesting trains.

The ACFX tank car in the seventh image, carrying Magnesium Hydroxide slurry, is of a type and with lading which is a familiar sight to Michigan railfans. Magnesium Hydroxide slurry is produced at several sites in Michigan, particularly by a large Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties plant at Manistee, and at a Dow plant at Ludington, both very near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Traffic of this product from those two plants moves southward from Ludington or Manistee on Genessee & Wyoming's Marquette Rail subsidiary to Grand Rapids, where it is frequently interchanged to CSX's ex-C&O nee-Pere Marquette line to move east to Detroit and Toledo, or west to Chicago. Some traffic may also move further straight south from Grand Rapids on Watco's Grand Elk Railroad to interchange with NS at the big yard at Elkhart, Indiana. There may also be some Magnesium Hydroxide production by Dow at Midland, Mich., or BASF / Wyandotte Chemical near Detroit. Such traffic could flow easily to CN's ex-GTW lines. But I don't believe that there is any production of the material at those locations, even though those plants use the same brines used at Manistee and Ludington as key feedstocks for manufacture of a number of other products.

Two key factors make for this substantial production of the product in Michigan. The first is the tremendous bowl-shaped geological structure (the Michigan Basin), lined with thick beds of salt which underlie most of the Lower Peninsula. This structure pinches up and out (like the edge of a cereal bowl) near Manistee and Ludington on the state's western shore, and near Midland (home of Dow Chemical)  and Wyandotte (south of Detroit) on the east side of the Lower Peninsula. With that salt are tremendous subsurface pools of chemical-rich brine, which when pumped to the surface can be processed as feedstock for many other downstream chemicals and chemical salts. Brine can also be produced by injecting pressurized hot water into subsurface salt beds. The salt and brines are the source for the state's extensive chemical and pharmaceutical industry, fostering firms like Dow at Midland and Wyandotte Chemicals (today BASF) south of Detroit.  The brines are rich in magnesium content, which when processed with high quality crushed dolomitic limestone (from a quarry near Woodville, Ohio, just southeast of Toledo), results in the magnesium hydroxide slurry. Or if calcined in an oven, a granular product. Magnesium hydroxide is used in a wide variety of products: https://magnesiaspecialties.com/applications-for-magnesia/

Neat to see one of those tank cars which we see so often in western Michigan making its way through Chicago.

MC



Date: 10/23/21 13:18
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: inCHI

Thanks for all of the interesting comments about Magnesium Hydroxide! That car in the photo was on M337, which would go to Hawthorne Yard in Chicago, and then onwards to Iowa. The other train in the photos, L536, pulls all of the traffic from the chemical corridor along the Joliet Sub to Kirk Yard. Some of that traffic is shuffled between Hawthorne and Glenn by a nightime local as well. I think I've seen those cars in that mix, I'll have to keep an eye out.



Date: 10/23/21 15:28
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: ns1000

Thanks for the interesting post....



Date: 10/24/21 11:11
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: justalurker66

rgzfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> There used to be a rail underpass about where the road is being built.

When CN closed the railroad for the "jump spans" to be put in place Amtrak said it was for a "bridge replacement". The excavation for the new bridge construction uncovered the foundations for the old bridge.

I have tried to compare the old layout (back when Ping Tom Park was a rail yard and the yards around Dearborn Station existed. There have been a lot of changes. And yet some things have been maintained ... even if unintentional.



Date: 10/24/21 13:38
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: rgzfan

Historical Aerials is very useful for such research.



Date: 10/24/21 22:03
Re: Eclectic CN Power Tiptoeing across Chicago Construction
Author: justalurker66

My work on a current base map and a 1938 map from the City of Chicago (not Historical Aerials).
The red zone is the former AT&SF and C&WI yards (plus the new Red Line CTA).
The green zone is Block 78 and the future development area.
The proposed realignment of the RI line is shown.
(The 45ft mark is the proposed realignment of CN over Clark St.)






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