Amtrak to rebuild Niantic River drawbridge, other facilities

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Garrett Wollman

Mar 13, 2009, 11:59:11 PM3/13/09
Amtrak is going to use some of its stimulus money to finally commence
the long-planned rehabilitation of the NEC drawbridge over the Niantic
River in Connecticut. From the White House press release:

Replacement of the movable bridge over the Niantic River on
the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut - $105 million. In the
largest single Amtrak project to be funded through the
Recovery Act, Amtrak will replace the 102-year-old drawbridge
which carries the Northeast Corridor over the Niantic River
near East Lyme, Connecticut. The replacement of this aging
bridge has been planned for over 20 years, but has been
repeatedly deferred due to a lack of capital funding for
Amtrak. Any further delay in replacing the bridge would result
in the imposition of significant speed restrictions over the
bridge (with resulting increases to passenger's travel times),
and potentially a major disruption to passenger rail service
between New York and Boston were the bridge's moving machinery
to fail in the open position. Amtrak estimates that the bridge
replacement will result in 860 person-years of work for those
directly employed in the bridge construction.

(Is there any money in the stimulus bill to allow the White House to
hire a few copyeditors?)

They are also repairing 68 damaged cars, rebuilding (!) three rotary
converters in Pennsylvania, installing Positive Train Control along
the southern end of the NEC, and restoring the Wilmington (Delaware)

Anybody have any idea why they would rebuild rotary converters rather
than replacing them with modern, all-electronic AC-AC converters? The
press release doesn't explain:

Rehabilitation of the Lamokin frequency converters in Chester,
Pennsylvania - $63 million. Using $63 million in Recovery Act
funding, Amtrak will entirely rebuild three rotary frequency
converters, which form a key element of the power supply
system for the Northeast Corridor, located in Chester,
Pennsylvania. Known as the "Lamokin Converters," they were
placed in service in the 1920's as part of the Pennsylvania
Railroad's electrification of its mainline between
Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware (on what has since
become Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC)). Since that time,
the three 16 megawatt motor-generator sets located at the site
have been in continuous use to convert commercial electric
power, which operates at 60 Hertz alternating current, to the
25 Hertz alternating current that powers Amtrak and commuter
trains along the NEC south of New York City.

After over 80 years of continuous use, the Lamokin frequency
converters are in dire need of major rehabilitation to ensure
their future reliability. As demonstrated by the power outages
that crippled Amtrak and commuter rail service in the
Northeast on several occasions in 2006 (the causes of which
were traced to frequency converting equipment), the reliable
supply of electric power is essential to the NEC remaining one
of the county's most energy-efficient examples of
transportation infrastructure. Through this project, the three
rotary converters will be entirely rebuilt with rewound motor
coils, new stator coils, and new collector rings, allowing
them to continue to serve passengers on the NEC for
generations to come. Amtrak estimates that the project will
result in 504 person-years of work for those directly employed
in the rehabilitation of the frequency converters.



Garrett A. Wollman | The real tragedy of human existence is not that we are| nasty by nature, but that a cruel structural asymmetry
Opinions not those | grants to rare events of meanness such power to shape
of MIT or CSAIL. | our history. - S.J. Gould, Ten Thousand Acts of Kindness

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