And the results are in….
The previously mentioned ODOT inspection (full report courtesy of the Oregonian) was released late last week, and ODOT found no concerns for public safety. Some say now that this undermines the union’s credibility; on the contrary I think it strengthens it.
I didn’t personally take any of the damage photos that the union had circulated, but y’all may have noticed I take a lot of pictures for the blog. Before ATU even circulated those track damage photos and any kind of ODOT inspection was on the radar, I had independently taken photos of some of the trouble areas.
These are both just west of the Lloyd Center platform, where switches 17A, 17B, and 17C allow trains to diverge into the Doubletree Siding. I took both of these pictures on January 26, 2013. The damage here necessitated a slow order (that’s what the yellow cone is for), and the damage to the rail and surrounding pavement is pretty obvious.
How long was that track in this state of disrepair? Well here’s the same spot, July 30, 2012. At that time, I’d taken these partially to show the damage, and partially just as an example of wayside flags in case I ever needed it for the blog. You can also see how the pavement around the rail in the above picture from January is visibly worse than it had been in July, indicating that little to no repair work was done on this during that time period.
Now these switches in particular weren’t shown in the ODOT report, but nearby switches (15A and 15B) west of Lloyd closer to 9th Ave were pictured in the ODOT report from March 5, 2013:
There had been a flurry of activity of repair work on the rails once the inspection was announced. ODOT was even able to tell that the welding in the 15 A switch had been done recently.
While the 17A switch that I took photos of in July 2012 and January 2013 wasn’t pictured in the ODOT report, here’s how it looked as of March 10, 2013:
You can see that the holes in the pavement around the rails have been filled in, again clearly showing that this problem had been there for months and only was addressed when the inspection was announced.
The only other pic I got recently was this at 11th Avenue on February 12, 2013.
I took this facing north and looking down on the westbound track at 11th & Morrison.
And what the inspectors saw:
This picture is taken facing west – my photo of the same area was taken on the left side of the first switch you see (you can see where the brick/cement/cobblestone pavement meet). Similar to the switch on Holladay, the holes in the area surrounding this switch have been repaved as well.
So I’m really struggling to see how this is supposed to undermine the union’s credibility. Apparently TriMet thought these issues were enough of a concern to patch these areas up before the inspectors came. I mean, the above pictures show the Holladay track damage going back as far as last July and still an issue at the end of January (and yes it was like that later than the end of January, but in fairness that’s the most recent I’d been there to take a photo) – if this was just “routine maintenance” and not last minute patching, wouldn’t it have been addressed sometime in the last 8 months and not immediately prior to the inspection?
Doesn’t the fact that these areas were in disrepair for months, and that TriMet saw fit to make last minute repairs right before the inspection just serve to strengthen the union’s concern that the alignment was not properly maintained?