Gold Line Foothill Extension Photo Tour: The Maintenance Yard

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The Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Yard will be able to store 84 cars when it is completed. The M&O site will be complete with a train car wash, a train car storage yard, 188 employee parking stalls, and a covered maintenance-of-way facility.

In this photo essay, we will explore the Foothill Gold Line’s magnificent Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Facility, currently under construction in Monrovia.

Earlier this week, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and Aviv Kleinman joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gold Line Phase II under construction in the San Gabriel Valley. We joined Albert Ho, head of Media Relations for the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, and Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the  Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture, the constructors of the project. Part 1 of the series documented the rail corridor and stations.

For those just joining us, the Gold Line is a 19.7 mile light rail line running from East Los Angeles to Pasadena via Union Station in Downtown L.A. The line currently serves 21 stations, and is operated by Metro. The Gold Line Foothill Extension will extend from its current terminus, in East Pasadena at Sierra Madre Villa, to Azusa. The 11.3-mile new extension includes 6 new stations. The extension will serve five cities directly, and it is proposed to transform the San Gabriel Valley entirely. Once bounded by distress of being caught in freeway gridlock, San Gabriel Valley residents will now have the freedom to commute by rail into Downtown L.A. and endless locations from there by using the new Gold Line extension.

M&O Campus

M&O Facility Site Plan, courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (click for hi-res)

Main Building Rendering

M&O Facility Main Building Rendering, courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (click for hi-res)

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One of the maintenance-of-way stalls under construction in the main building of the M&O yard

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Workers overhead spray-painting the skeletal structure of the future main building

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Constructing the train car wash facility. At the end of each day, each train will pass through this specialized car wash to get a nice scrub-down after the long day’s work.

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When completed, workers will be able to service the underside of train cars from these below-grade trenches, “like at a Jiffy-Lube,” according to Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture.

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This retaining wall was set in place after earth was extracted from this north side of the facility in order to flatten the yard’s grade. Most of the earth extracted from here was moved to the fill in the southern side of the facility, in order to flatten the 27-acre maintenance facility.

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An elevated water tank proudly declares the constructor’s name.

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Though most of the track along the line utilizes state-of-the-art concrete rail ties, classic wooden ties are used at switches along the track, and there are 56 switches in the M&O facility. According to Rowland, wooden ties are used in spots that it may be necessary to adjust the rail by even just a few millimeters. Concrete ties last longer, but rails cannot be adjusted as easily along them as with wood.

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Wooden ties waiting on pallets to be put in place. These types of ties are installed the “old fashioned way,” by hand, “like you see in the old school,” according to Rowland.

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The transition from concrete ties at a straight length of track to wooden ties at a switch.

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The rail yard will be able to store 84 cars when it is competed. There are a total of 5 miles of fully-electrified track in use within the M&O facility alone.

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This piece of switch machinery pushes the track to guide the train to its correct storage lane.

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This junction of two rails, as Rowland explained, is called a frog. It forms the immovable part of a switch that ensures that the train’s wheels are always supported by a rail, and do not drop into the gap formed at the junction of the two tracks. It requires a heavy cast of steel in order to withstand the impact of train wheels.

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Concrete ties meet wood ties. Though most of the track is welded, fishplates (the piece of steel with bolts that hold two lengths of track together) like this are used in critical spots.

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Newly delivered Bumping Posts wait for their installation. Bumping Posts are installed at the ends of rail stubs, readily accepting the immense impact of trains that do not stop where they’re supposed to.