BNSF Bradshaw to Aurora Capacity Improvement Project
Lead Design TranSystems
Mechanical Engineering Deerns
Pavement Design RDM International Inc.
General Contractor SEMA Construction Inc.
In 2015, Burlington National Santa Fe Railroad announced a $226-million capital program in Nebraska. That program funded the Bradshaw to Aurora Heavy Rail Capacity Improvement Project, which constructed a 12.7-mile, double-track segment between Bradshaw and Aurora, Neb. The project also improved 13 grade-level crossings and built a new bridge over Highway 14. The project improved overall safety and increased speed and capacity on a heavily traveled rail route that hauls food, clothing, consumer goods, agriculture products, coal, petroleum, chemicals and building materials.
Because of the immediate need for more capacity, the project was deemed a priority, which mandated a 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week construction schedule. Soil stabilization was conducted in frozen ground from November to February, when the temperature ranged from 5 degrees to -25 degrees. SEMA Construction developed an innovative solution to warm the ground enough to place materials into the subgrade. The firm contracted with Dustrol, an expert in hot-in-place bituminous recycling, to use the firm’s custom-made, propane-fueled ground heaters. The mobile heaters traveled slowly across the ground and heated the subgrade enough to stabilize soils.
Bridge construction began in January 2015 with the temperature hovering near -27 degrees. To keep crews safe and warm in the extreme conditions, SEMA installed ice-fishing huts near the work zones. The huts were warmed with propane heaters and well stocked with food and supplies. Additionally, foremen created a rotation schedule so that workers were only exposed to the elements for carefully planned periods of time. These measures kept morale and productivity high, and the bridge was completed in less than seven weeks.