Thursday, November 19, 2015

City of Aurora News

Looking ahead to 2016:
What the R Line Crossing will be like at Alameda/Sable
FasTracks — The intersection of Alameda Avenue and Sable Boulevard in Aurora opened to traffic Nov. 6, more than two weeks ahead of schedule. The reconstructed intersection was widened to accommodate six lanes of traffic in each direction on Alameda and five lanes in each direction on Sable. In addition to the expanded roadway, crews laid tracks for an at-grade – or road level – light rail crossing, which will carry light rail trains on the future R line. Beginning in late 2016, trains will start running through this intersection, along the east side of Sable Boulevard.
“Now that the Alameda/Sable intersection is open and the light rail tracks are set in place, motorists can start getting used to the look and feel of the new intersections and crossings – and how to safely navigate around them before we actually start running the trains,” Regional Transportation District (RTD) Traffic Signal Engineer Bret Higgins said. “Plus, we can educate people about the important safety features that are part of this crossing.”
Higgins said a total of 20 at-grade track crossings are planned for the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail project which runs between the Nine Mile and Peoria stations. In many locations, trains will travel next to or cross vehicle traffic. Some of the crossings will have warning gates adjacent to traffic signals; others will operate with a traffic signal only. Crossings might also include bells and “blank out” signs, which are illuminated regulatory and warning signs for vehicles and pedestrians. Signage at each crossing is defined by federal and state regulations and is dependent on several factors, including traffic volume and configuration of the crossing.
Alameda/Sable Crossing
The Alameda/Sable intersection has an average daily traffic volume of 62,000 vehicles. A key route for accessing Aurora Municipal Center, Town Center of Aurora and the Arapahoe County Centrepoint Plaza, this intersection is the largest at-grade crossing for the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail Line.
The following safety features will warn motorists and pedestrians when a light rail train is approaching:
  • About 25 seconds before a train arrives at the crossing, it  will trip a track circuit, triggering the warning signals
  • A red light pair for each lane of traffic will start flashing
  • Bells located on every gate mast and atop each pedestrian blank-out sign mast between the tracks will ring to warn drivers and pedestrians
  • About 3-5 seconds after the flashing lights start, automatic vehicle gates will begin to lower, prohibiting through movement for vehicles arriving at the crossing
  • Blank-out signs, located between the tracks, will flash a “No Pedestrians” symbol and a “Train” symbol
  • Illuminated blank-out signs for the northbound right turn lane will flash “No Right Turn” and “Train” symbols; and blank-out signs for the southbound left turn lane will flash “No Left Turn” and “Train” symbols.
  • About 15-20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing, a train horn will sound a “long, long, short, long” horn blast
  • Prior to, and during the activation of the railroad warning devices (flashing lights, bells, gates and blank-out signs), the westbound traffic signal will provide a track clearance “green” interval to clear any potential vehicles off of the tracks. The track clearance green will turn yellow, then red, when the gates are horizontal across all traffic lanes
All pedestrian crossings comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing raised tactile features on the ground, spring-loaded swing gates that pedestrians must manually open in order to cross the tracks, and fencing to help people safely navigate across the intersection.
Additional warning signs, in advance of the light rail tracks, include yellow and black “R X R” warning signs and “R X R” symbol pavement markings.  Regulatory signs including “cross buck” railroad crossing signs on the gate masts, “STOP HERE ON RED” signs adjacent to a painted stop line on the pavement, “NO TURN ON RED” signs on the westbound traffic signal mast arms and “DO NOT STOP ON THE TRACKS” signs that are placed in advance of the crossing. Motorists are cautioned to stop behind the stop line while waiting for a passing train.
Higgins also added this reminder to motorists regarding safety around trains: “Do not cross the tracks unless it is safe to do so. Do not stop on the tracks -- it’s against the law. If you have already started across the tracks and the railroad warning lights have started flashing, and the gates have started to descend, keep going to clear the tracks.”
For additional light rail safety crossing tips, click here.
Decorative arch installed over Colfax Station 
Construction crews working on the 10.5-mile R Line through Aurora installed a decorative arch at the Colfax Station near I-225 during the overnight hours of Sunday, Oct. 25 and Monday, Oct. 26.
Colfax Bridge Photo

The 252-foot-long arch was fabricated by Schuff Steel Company, Midwest Division --the same company that fabricated steel for the open-air train hall canopy at Denver’s Union Station. At 15 feet wide, the iconic bridge rises more than 28 feet above the Colfax Station platform.
The arch is made of seven pieces that were shipped from Ottawa, Kansas and assembled on each side of East Colfax Avenue.
The arch weighs more than 57,000 pounds and supports the center canopy for the elevated light rail station.

At-Grade Crossings in Aurora

One of the unique features of the new R Line through Aurora is that the train tracks curve away from I-225 and travel through the Aurora City Center on approximately 20 at-grade, or street-level, crossings. Installing track that runs directly through an intersection or roadway, while leaving the surface smooth for automotive and pedestrian traffic, involves much more than meets the eye.
When reconstructing an intersection to include an at-grade crossing, crews work around the clock to relocate utilities, excavate and remove dirt, and change the elevation of the intersection to match the elevation of the tracks. Next, complex layers of systems are installed underneath the track including:
  • An “under-drain” system of pipes which provides drainage
  • A conduit and wire system, called a “duct bank,” generates power for train signals and communication
  • A layer of rock, or “sub-ballast,” rests on the ground and provides the foundation of the track
  • On top of the sub-ballast is the “ballast,” an additional layer of rock that supports the track and concrete ties
This intricate substructure, which supports the track, plays a vital role in providing a safe and cTrack Paving Photoomfortable ride for light rail passengers.
Track that crosses an intersection is either “paved track” or “panelized track.” Paved track has concrete poured around it to fix it in place. Panelized track has 10-foot-long concrete panels that are installed between the ties and welded together to provide a smooth surface for both the rail passengers and motorists.
The last step involved in building an at-grade crossing is to install signage. The signs, traffic signals and striping remind drivers to be aware of trains and track while they navigate the intersection.
Construction crews have made significant progress in upgrading the key at-grade crossings along the I-225 Rail Line. As remaining intersections are completed along the future “R” Line, more street closures will be necessary. However, the finished line will feature sophisticated systems that will help guide trains safely and smoothly through the crossings.  

Dollar Bill Icon Photo
Please support all local businesses affected by road closures and detours. Throughout the project, construction crews will close streets and establish detours to ensure worker and public safety. We ask that travelers continue to watch for these signs and exercise caution while driving through work zones.

The businesses in the Aurora City Center area and all along the project corridor will remain open during construction of the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail project. Our merchants know the improved mobility we are creating will benefit their businesses, which is why they are so supportive. Let’s all show our appreciation as customers. 

Clip art of calendar
 The Aurora Line/I-225 Rail team and its partners plan to host a Community Open House during the first quarter of 2016.  Please stay tuned for details.

Construction Information Line: 720.863.8505