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Streetcar work progresses on Broadway

Recently, construction crews started excavation work for the inbound track on Broadway. This will prepare the roadway for the installation of track from Howell to Pine streets.

Below are some interesting photos to illustrate the work.

Rail Storage

The rail is delivered in 60-foot long segments called “sticks.” Each weighs about one ton!  The type of rail being used on the First Hill Streetcar project is called “girder rail.” It has a low profile when embedded in concrete and is specially designed for urban areas. The girder rail was specified for this project because, compared to the more common “t-rail” system, it reduces hazards to pedestrians and to small wheeled vehicles such as wheel chairs, baby carriages and bicycles.


The sticks are joined together using a technique called “flash butt welding.” Two rails are laid end to end with a small gap in between them.  When an electric current is applied to the metal, the gap between the two pieces creates resistance and produces the heat required to melt the steel. When the rails reach the proper temperature, they are pressed together. Four sticks are welded together to produce a 240-foot long segment.


Here the welds are undergoing finish grinding. This produces a smooth ride.

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