Civil Engineering

♪♫ I’ve Been Working on the Railroad ♪♫

December 13, 2013 in Civil Engineering, Staff News

Blog-MarshallNathan Marshall,
Civil Engineer –

Blog-Train1Bruce Haynes and I recently completed a field evaluation of 26 bridges for the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Thankfully the weather was fantastic, no rain and 50+ degrees. The trip provided a much needed break from Colorado’s bitter cold. The GSMR railroad line runs just south of the national park and provides a scenic ride through the mountainous timber of the Smokies. Numerous steel trusses dating back to the early 1900s straddle the mighty rivers flowing through the Appalachians.

Blog-Train3Even Hollywood has taken note of the amazing scenery…with footage shot in the area for the following movies: The Fugitive (the thrilling train escape scene was shot on GSMR property…the trains remain on-site, see photo) Deliverance (portions of this timeless love story between a chubby city slicker and a backwoods ruffian were shot in nearby Silva, NC) Forces of Nature (only Ben Affleck’s acting prowess could overshadow the scenery of the GSMR as it crosses high above Fontana Lake, see photo)

Blog-Train4Martin/Martin has been providing tourist railroad bridge inspections since the 1970s, starting with the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Martin/Martin’s bridge evaluations typically utilize two inspectors who diligently look over the bridge structures, preferably under train loading. Field notes from previous inspections are taken along to compare versus current conditions. Any changes in the condition of the structures are detailed in an evaluation report. The report also provides maintenance recommendations for railroad personnel or contractors to perform.

Blog-Train5As part of the recent Federal Railroad Administration’s (F.R.A.) mandates, all railroad owners are to have a designated “Railroad Bridge Engineer.” Their responsibilities include: evaluating inspection reports, providing maintenance and repair recommendations, and determining safe load capacities for existing structures. Martin/Martin’s bridge group fulfills the role as “Railroad Bridge Engineer” for the railroads and also can provide the duty of “Railroad Bridge Inspector.” This additional service allows us to indulge in some exciting field work in scenic parts of the country. As I rode from bridge-to-bridge in a caboose warmed with a coal-fired stove, looking out on the picturesque Appalachian setting, I appreciated escaping from the world of AutoCad/ Outlook/SAP and assisting the charming, little world of tourist railroads.