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Abo Canyon
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jbcrate
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Abo Canyon
 
« on: Apr 13th, 2006, 8:36pm »
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Any news on Abo Canyon double tracking?
Thanks
Jack Crate


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #1 on: Apr 18th, 2006, 4:58am »
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Been thinking about this too of late, as with this and the Pecos River bridge which they plan to construct by 2008, the entire freight line via Amarillo will be double tracked.    
 
BNSF plans to start the work in Abo Canyon this year.  The second track approximately but not exactly follows the existing track.   There is some curve straightening and shifting out of the more unstable areas.  
 
For those that do not know where this is, it is southeast of Albuquerque, and railroad east of Belen.  Mileposted east to west.  Backing up from Belen, you have:  
 
mp 896.9  Belen  
mp 875.0 East Sais, end double track from Belen, begin single  
mp 870.3 Scholle, end single track from E. Sais, begin double track  
mp 854.8 Mountainair  
mp 657.6 Clovis  
 
So we are talking about 4.7 miles of new railroad.  
 
This work may not happen as quickly as BNSF intends.  There is organized opposition to it being done.  They have a web site, www.abocanyon.com and the stuff on it would lead you to think that to allow BNSF to do this work will ecologically destroy the entire southwestern US.
 
This objection seems to be started and funded by the Rosas, who apparently own an operation called Dripping Springs Ranch, which must be a fairly large operation, based on the money that has to have been spent for these opposing reports.  There is a location called Dripping Springs that shows up on the USGS quad on US 60 near Montosa Canyon, which branches south off Abo Canyon about mid way through the area.  To find it, from the US 60 overpass over the railroad near Scholle go about 1.7 miles west.  This point is about 0.4 miles off Montosa Canyon, and about two miles from where that canyon meets Abo Canyon.  This meeting point is itself about 1.8 miles along the railroad from the US 60 overpass.
 
A hint of the real reason for their objections is the statement that, if the second track is not built, or if it is built, it is put in a tunnel as the Rosas want it to be, then "Ranchers could continue to run cattle in the canyon in the same manner that they have over the past 250 years."  Apparently, that purchase of some of the public lands in the area by BNSF for right of way and then fencing it to keep cattle and wild animals off the tracks, will interfere with their "open range" ranching.  In other words, we want to continue to have our free ride of our cattle grazing on someone else's property.  Of course they do not want to foot any of the cost of the tunnel.  
 
The terms of the paper written opposing this project, titled "Would the BNSF Second Track Project have a Significant Impact on the Quality of the Human Environment?" could most politely be called exaggerated, but IMHO are more accurately fear mongering.  It is written by a Thomas F. King, PhD out of Silver Spring, Maryland.  (A long way from New Mexico)  He goes on a length about light pollution, noise pollution, threats to public health from discharge of pollutants, "The existing railroad also attracts train aficionados," who want to view trains and take photographs.  Egad, people who watch trains are now detrimental to the environment!  
 
If you have not, read Michael Crichton's State of Fear.  A lot of the report writing appears to me to be as extreme and disconnected from reality as any Crichton talks about in his novel.   This paper disparages the work of BNSF's engineering consultant, HDR in ways that probably cross the line into libel.  On the web site is also some information mooched either from BNSF or from HDR that gives perspective views of the new track and associated earthwork to which these people had added a lot of pejorative comments.  (potential copyright violation ? )  It is worthwhile to go to the site and find these anyway just to see what BNSF is proposing.  
 
Also on the abocanyon web site is a paper by a Kamran M. Nemati, PhD, PE written early this year proposing a tunnel in the upper part of the canyon.  Apparently only about the upper two miles is of concern to these people,  Presumably his study was funded by the same people.  He has some proposed tunnel cross sections in there that apparently were done without becoming acquainted with the standards of either the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association or the BNSF Railway, either one.  Also somewhat surprising is that he is proposing building it with a TBM.  
 
I did not find on the web any apparent objection to this project from any of the real environmental groups.  But, does not mean that these people that are objecting can't cause BNSF trouble.    
 
George


« Last Edit: Apr 18th, 2006, 10:59pm by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #2 on: Apr 19th, 2006, 3:31am »
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Searched  around a little more on this subject.  Less information on these two sites, but these are what is public on the web sites of the people actually doing the work for BNSF:
 
http://www.hansonwilson.com/projects/abo.asp
 
http://www.hdrinc.com/Assets/documents/Publications/RailLine/november2005/RailLineNov05.pdf
 
On further searching, I also did find an “alert” from the Sierra Club, but it appears to be instigated by the same source.  If you go to  
http://riogrande.sierraclub.org/alert_06y_03m_27d_abo.pdf
you will find that it is a brief note over a letter requesting their involvement from Luis and Jean Rosas.  Otherwise, there is nothing on the Rio Grande Sierra Club’s web site on this project.
 
The Rosas apparently operate a Dude Ranch, as when you chase the thing a little further you find a Dripping Spring Ranch with the same web site as their email address.  However if you go to the web site to find out something about their operation, the only thing you get is, “THIS SITE IS NO LONGER IN USE! "SORRY".”
Their operation or operations can be found on some of the New Mexico vacation pages.  Whether these are each different or all one and the same, I have no idea.  The following is found on the web:
 
Adventure Vacations...
2 unique and exciting vacation adventures that offer a taste of western ranching to the finest in luxury living. ...  
www.drippingspringsranch.com  
 
Dripping Springs Guest Ranch & Springs
HC66, Box 607  
Mountainair, NM 87036  
505-423-3214: Fax 505-423-3360  
vacation@drippingspringsranch.com  
Adobe Pole Pine Lodge
 
Dripping Spring Ranch
www.drippingspringsranch.com  
Guest ranch and spa in Mountainair offering cattle roundups, trail rides and Western-style adventure.  
 
Someone that is in this area might be able to figure out who these people are and what sort of operation(s) these are from this stuff.  As said before, they have spent a lot of money trying to kill this project, and it is difficult to understand why.  It has got  my couriosity going.
 
I have been involved with this sort of stuff several times, and when you find someone who objects strongly there is usually a money reason, not a critters and archeology one.  Regardless of what they are saying, for the most part, the proposed track is very close to the existing one, and has little permanent impact beyond that already existing.
 
George


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zwsplac
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #3 on: Apr 26th, 2006, 4:52pm »
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George, how far east have they gotten with the double tracking? I don't get into southern Kansas too much at all, has it reached Wellington yet? Do you know if they intend to double track the Wellington sub between Mulvane and Ellinor, or will they continue to utilize the Ark City and LaJunta subs via Newton as the eastbound main? I can get no information whatsoever on this.


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #4 on: Apr 26th, 2006, 11:39pm »
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Sorry, I do not know.  All I have is what can be found on the BNSF web site plus some things from the trade press.  Maybe if our friendly moderator, BNSF 1088 can look at the current employee timetable, he can give us an idea of what is going on there.  What I have is the last that was publically available on their web, which was January 2002.
 
George


« Last Edit: Apr 26th, 2006, 11:54pm by George_Harris » Logged
zwsplac
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #5 on: Apr 27th, 2006, 11:25pm »
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I'll ask on the BNSF Yahoo Group. They might know.

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zwsplac
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #6 on: Apr 30th, 2006, 12:30pm »
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From the BNSF yahoo group, I learned that the double tracking is complete to just west of Wellington KS. Next up is from Wellington to Mulvane, but no word on if they'd continue the current operation of directional running. I for one enjoy seeing Newton getting some real rail traffic, and I need to get down there to snap some shots of this line before traffic dies again.

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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #7 on: Jul 25th, 2007, 3:48pm »
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Looks like this may be about to happen, finally.  Appears that the Corps of Engineers has held their hearings and concluded that there is no real reason for them to not provide the permits required from them.  This happened back in January, but I just now ran across it.  
 
The CofE document can be found at
www.spa.usace.army.mil/reg/200500269/200500269-Assessment.pdf  
a one sheet layout is at
www.spa.usace.army.mil/reg/200500269/200500269-AppA-2.pdf  
 
What you get from this is how much trouble a dedicated opponent with time and money available can give you.  There are pages in the document simply listing the various letters from Dripping Springs Ranch and BNSF.  In there you also find that DSR is apparently a Dude Ranch and the current owners have been there since 1993 only, while the railroad has been there since 1903.
 
Maybe some work will start soon.


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #8 on: Oct 16th, 2007, 3:35pm »
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Things are continuing to move at the typical snails pace that occurs when you get multiple agencies of government involved.  It appears that Dripping Springs Ranch, that is, the Rosa's have spent megabucks to oppose this project.  It may be understandable to a certain extent that they would not like it, but on the other hand they did buy a property that already had a mainline railroad as a neighbor, and given that the extent of their opposition had got to have cost them huge amounts of both time and money, their opposition appears to be way out of proportion to the situation.  You have got to wonder what is driving their anti-railroad obsession.
 
Here is the latest that can be found on the web:  Go to  
http://www.spa.usace.army.mil/reg/publicnotice.asp
Scroll down to New Mexico, and got until you see a blue text saying,
Quote:
Notice of Public Information Meeting regarding the proposed resolution of adverse effects to historic properties pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for a BNSF Railway second track project in Abo Canyon in Valencia and Socorro Counties, NM. The Public Information Meeting and open house will be held at the Shaffer Hotel, 103 West Main Street, Mountainair, NM, on Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 5:00 to 6:30 pm, with a brief presentation at 5:30 pm.

To the left of this text is a list of documents you can call up that were presented at this hearing.  The first is a 138 page document that may be the same as the one back in January.  In it is also a map, and a few other items.  
 
It has now been two years since BNSF wanted to start this work.  Maybe real work can start fairly soon.
 
One other thing found in the search.  They do have a contractor.  Ames Construction of Burnsville, Minnesota.  A company newsletter in 2006 refers to the job as being delayed due to permitting issues.


« Last Edit: Oct 16th, 2007, 4:03pm by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #9 on: May 30th, 2008, 8:59pm »
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Does anyone know if work is really going to happen here or not?  Nothing in the news that I can find since the Corps of Engineers hearing last fall.  Checked on Ames Construction, and the project is no longer on there list of railroad work, depite four other jobs for BNSF being there.  Have the Rosas actually succeded in stopping this work?

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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #10 on: Oct 14th, 2008, 4:32pm »
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According to a thread on trainorders, work has started.  However real information is scarce.  Likewise, it appears unless you are a BNSF employee either MOW or train crew, you are unlikely to be able to access the area.  
 
If you go to the anti work web site that was put up by the Rosas, you get nothing.  Likewise the dripping springs ranch web site is no longer the same and it appears that it is now a horse farm.  What has happened to these people?  
 
Anybody out there with any real information?


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #11 on: Feb 3rd, 2009, 7:09pm »
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Work has really started.  Source is BNSF's empoyee magazine, Railway, November/December 2008.  www.bnsf.com/employees/communications/railway/pdf/200812.pdf
This part of the site is available to the public.  
 
A few statements from the article:  "The double track expansion through the canyon has just begun and is expected to be complete in a few years."
 
"About 150 people are involved in the current phase of construction, but due to the sluggish economy, the pae of the $80 million project is slowing as the funding plan and schedule are being modified."
 
Mention was made about the various procedures needed to obtain all necessary permits, but no mention was made of the earlier nemesis, the Rosas.  


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #12 on: Aug 25th, 2011, 10:43pm »
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Another wake up of an old thread.
 
The line is done.  maybe I will get my act together somewhat and gatehr up some pictures or links.  However, the same old political silliness seems to still be going on.
 
www.news-bulletin.com/nb/index/php/news/5119-bnsf-abo-canyon-train-ride-raises-questions-regarding-officials-trip.html
 
It seems that BNSF invited numerous poeple, mostly govenment officials in the state and the counties and cities involved to ride a special train for an inspection tour of the project.  Given the terrain and roads in the area that would be about the only way to get a good look at it.  The trip took place on August 3.
 
There was a stink raised by some about the trip.  Why?
 
The long and the short of it is that there is a New Mexico constitutional prohibition of long standing that prohibits elected officials from "obtaining a free pass for transportation over any railroad upon terms not open to the general public" and it is a felony to do so.
 
The state Attorney General issued an opinion that the trip did not violate this provision as BNSF no longer provides passenger service.  Leaves hanging in the air what would happen if Amtrrak did someting similar to the Raton Pass line and offered a similar inspection tour.
 
The perspective of the politicians that took the trip was that it was in the same nature of being invited to a ribbion cutting for the opening of a new store factory or some such, not an offer of free transportation.  
 
The article went on to quote a person who "called the whole thing illegal" and intended to try to get the district attorney (of the county??) and the state to investigate the public officials that took this special train ride.
 
Wonder what her particular gripe is?  


« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2011, 11:25pm by George_Harris » Logged
ehbowen
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #13 on: Aug 26th, 2011, 10:36am »
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on Aug 25th, 2011, 10:43pm, George_Harris wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Another wake up of an old thread.
 
www.news-bulletin.com/nb/index/php/news/5119-bnsf-abo-canyon-train-ride-raises-questions-regarding-officials-trip.html

 
George--Fixed your link.


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #14 on: Aug 26th, 2011, 6:54pm »
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on Aug 26th, 2011, 10:36am, ehbowen wrote:       (Click here for original message)

George--Fixed your link.

Thanks, Eric


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George_Harris
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #15 on: Aug 27th, 2011, 11:28pm »
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Copied in BNSF press release.  Presumably a press release is OK to copy.
 
Trains began using the new track on June 3, 2011
 
BNSF News
Abo Canyon Double Track Open for Business  
2011-06-06
At 5:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, Friday, June 3, BNSF employees had reason to celebrate as the first train traversed the completed double track through the Abo Canyon on the Southwest Division.
 
This project addressed one of the last remaining segments of single-line track on BNSF's busy Southern Transcon. The 2.5-year-long project was completed ahead of schedule, and BNSF employees did not have a single reportable or non-reportable injury.
 
"The new track, about 25 miles east of Belen, N.M., will help improve velocity through the canyon, eliminate bottlenecks and accommodate rail traffic growth on this section of BNSF's transcontinental line, which connects Los Angeles to Chicago," said Sam Sexhus, vice president, Engineering.
 
Since beginning the work in October 2008, crews on the project have:
 
•Laid 5 miles of new track
•Blasted approximately 3.6 million tons of rock
•Built nine bridges totaling about 3,000 feet in length
Crews will continue daily windows over the new segments in coming weeks to complete de-stressing and welding work.
 
"About 80 trains were travelling this portion of the track every day and now we can handle about 130 trains per day," Sexhus said. "That's a significant return on BNSF's investment, and will provide more efficient transportation services for our customers."
 


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starnet36
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #16 on: Jan 30th, 2013, 3:51am »
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Since the double-tracking of Abo Canyon has been completed, does anyone have any info. about actually visiting the site to see what work was done?  Is there access to the site or is it restricted or limited access?  I would love to be able to walk through the Canyon to see first-hand what was done; likewise, given the remoteness of the location, it seems like it would be a complete waste of time to travel that far and not be able to get access to the site.  Any feedback from anyone who's been there would be appreciated.  Thanks.

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ClydeDET
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Re: Abo Canyon
 
« Reply #17 on: Mar 7th, 2013, 9:18pm »
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Haven't been there, but from doing a quick sweep using google maps, doesn;t look lik there is significant access to much of the area involved except by hiking in.'MILES of hiking in. Wheter the area is open to somebody on foot or hire or not - dunno.

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