Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tracking progress

Track has come to my 'hood, and now that Berry Street has reopened, I can finally get some decent photos of the progress.

Looking east at the newly constructed westbound platform in front of KSTP. Yay for being able to go west on this train, too (watch out, Minneapolis!)

Looking east at track work, from Berry.

Rail detail

Beautiful beautiful embedded track, looking west from Berry.

Track crossing the colored concrete crosswalks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 16, 2011

Depot madness

Yesterday, I went on a walk to soak in the sheer construction madness down at the depot. Hard hats, cranes, and lunch coolers everywhere. Things are changing so fast down there - something new to see everyday. It turns out, the public can walk through a good portion of the interior of the Depot - we used the Wacouta entrance to take a peak at the interior work.

The big news this week was the restoration of the historic paint color in the headhouse. Yellow! (Cue the Coldplay song.) While it's not what I would pick for my kitchen walls, it's got that great saturated color that you see in train stations like Grand Central. Also not sure it's perfect with the pink marble, but I'll wait til it's scaffold-free and well-lit to pass judgment.

New carriageway going up, looking west from Wacouta.

View out the front window of the station.

Sibley at 4th Street, looking south.

And LRT structural steel up on the platforms out front. Already?! Woo!

Speaking of great American train stations, I watched a whole show this week about the new transit station at Ground Zero. A crazy feat of engineering. New York Times has an awesome interactive feature with all the layers of the master plan. All of the sudden Central Corridor looks like a really simple little project...

Location:Union Depot

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rail Pull!

The whole rail pulling thing has been a little anti-climactic. The date was sketchy, and delayed a few times. And then today, I was standing at the bus stop on Minnesota Street downtown and saw a Railworks vehicle go by. I thought...hmm...now where is that guy headed? Luckily, my bus followed him all the way to Hamline, where he veered off into the construction zone. A rail-pulling vehicle on University? Next to a big pile of rail? Sherlock has pieced this one together!

Around 8 pm, I got some confirmation that this deal was in fact happening tonight. I threw on a hoodie and scarf and starting driving towards Snelling (did I mention it's like 40 degrees out? Yeah, thanks for nothing, September). I found the crews coming up on Fairview, so I hopped out at Wendy's and took some video.

I've was told that it was going to be pretty dull watching rail being dragged from the welding shop to its actual location. It'll be dark. It'll be slow. You know what? That was a big fat lie. I couldn't have been more excited watching that first piece of rail inch its way past me. It was like a parade, except I was the only weirdo out there. I was probably smiling a little too much.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The last bit

I needed to do a quick grocery run today at the other end of this year's construction - Hamline Avenue.

I haven't paid much attention here since they finished rail welding. I sort of assumed that it was still way behind on this last bit. But low and behold, curbs went in this week and it looks like they might actually get this end ready in time for the planned traffic switch next Monday. Might.

There are other reasons to come to Hamline, though (besides Target of course). You have some great impromptu public art:

Ah, cart art. It's all the rage at Midway bus stops.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 8, 2011

4th Street is for lovers

One of my most popular posts to date was my downtown round-up of new tracks, depot action, and the skeletal OMF(G). So, 4th Street lovers, today's lunch walk is for you!

The 4th and Cedar station (aka the Diagonal), looking northwest-ish at what will be the guideway

Standing in the finished guideway near Minnesota Street, looking east. No fences here so I thought, yeah, why not...notice the "black ice" colored concrete to help differentiate the guideway from the traffic lane. (The color is actually called that, btw, I can't make this stuff up.) So, stay off the black ice, cars. Also, if there is a train coming up behind you, that should be your first clue.

Some track guts

Pouring the intersection concrete at Jackson Street

This is the point where my friend Stephanie noted that these guys would be excellent at icing cakes, too. Maybe they can do that over the winter months.

Union Depot's twin platforms have been poured out where the Depot restoration and the LRT construction collide (hopefully not literally)

More of the Depot's new front yard, looking epic.

Thanks for taking a walk down 4th Street. If you have other areas where you'd like to see a photo update - let me know. I'll do my best!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Show me the track

The first segment of construction on the north side of University is moving quickly. But when will the track show up? We're getting close!

Btw, no laughing at my crummy video. I am on one of those buses where the stupid windows don't open. Who thought of that?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The sweetest thing

Happy first day of school, all.

Labor Day wraps up a lot of things in Minnesota - summer vacations, fried candy bars, white pants (which no one can fit into post-Fair anyway), and my birthday weekend.

There are pros and cons to having your birthday at the beginning of September. I almost always get a three day weekend and lovely weather. On the other hand, I always equated going back to school with my birthday. I started kindergarten on my birthday, and college orientation, too. Nothing like spending time with...wait, who are all these strangers? Yikes.

By far, the best part of any birthday is hanging out with friends (some of those former strangers, come to think of it). And my friends make cakes. Ridiculously awesome and delicious cakes. This year they surprised me with a construction themed cake. Of course. Nailed it, guys. Extra props for using black licorice as track - I am a huge fan.

Sidenote: You may be asking why my Wonka-fied LRT cake is in a pan shaped like lips. The lip pan is a tradition that would require a whole 'nother post...er, make that a whole 'nother blog. We've got like 8 years of these crazy cakes to document!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone