Monday, September 21, 2009

Frankford Elevated Line -- A Worrisome Connection to Honolulu

Readers of this blog and of are akamai about the maintenance nightmare that elevated heavy rail is. The weight and vibrations of trains are severe for concrete compared to the much lighter and rubber tired vehicles on elevated roadways.

Here is a quote from the September 18, 2009 issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The Frankford elevated line, which was completely rebuilt in the 1980s and 1990s to last for 75 years, needs significant repairs because of a basic flaw in its reconstruction design. To prevent pieces of concrete from falling onto cars or pedestrians, SEPTA crews have installed 8,000 metal mesh belts on the underbelly of the El and plan to install 2,000 more, beginning Monday."

What is one lesson from this paragraph? Just like BART in San Francisco and all urban rail systems, they have to be largely rebuilt every 30 years. What's worse in this case is that the rebuilt needs to be rebuilt. Poor Philadelphia you say and you move on.

But then you read this in the same article: "SEPTA last month filed suit against the two companies, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Sverdrup (now part of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.), for the repair costs."

What's the connection? Parsons Brinckerhoff is the main consultant working on Honolulu's Rail Project, and Jacobs Engineering is the Project Management Oversight Consultant to Region 9 FTA responsible for Honolulu's Rail Project.

Are you in good hands?