The track crew maintains over forty miles of double railroad track at
the VLA. They use big machines and move a lot of dirt. Ties must be
replaced regularly. Several of these pictures were made while the
crew was working on a section leading from the main track to an
antenna pedestal on the north arm. The track was laid on expansive
clay and, over time, the track began to sink. They removed the track
and about five feet of dirt, laid down plastic sheeting and excavated
so that water would run off into a complex French drain, and then put
in new dirt and relaid the track.
Carl uses a backhoe to
remove the dirt. Pat, in the little front-end loader, moves the dirt
so it can be spread out later. Paul and Ellison confer about the process.
Adrian spreads out the dirt
that was removed from under the track.
Joe performs some maintenance work on the
tamping machine they will use when they put the track back in place.
Quality ballast is one of
the most important ingredients in maintaining railroad tracks. It
must be replenished, and occasionally totally replaced.