They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Trains and M-231 Part II

Back in March I was able to score a double -- one of the coal unit trains and part of the M-231 construction (DW). Amazingly almost a month later I did it again.

On Easter Eve, while traveling from seeing Transcendence to the D&W gorcery store in Holland, I saw a pair of BNSF diesels heading slowly west along Lakewood Boulevard leading a full unit coal train -- as opposed to the southbound empties I had shot in March. I knew it was going slowly as it would have to take the cutoff to go north, so I kept going, but where to shoot?

Practically speaking I am all about the head end of trains, so I needed to be over the grade crossing, so that after I got my shot we could go on grocery shopping. After all, this is a long train, maybe 50-100 hopper cars. So there's a no-name gas station just past there, big modern slab of concrete and a convenience store.

Even better, it's right by the tight curve of the cutoff -- almost model railroad like. Lined up the Bravada, brought out the D100 and the 28-80mm f3.3-5.6G AF-NIKKOR and waited.

Here comes the train, tried to get the shot head-on. 75mm (about 105mm FX equivalent). (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And close up of BNSF GE ES44AC 5964 at 28mm (42mm equivalent). If it looks like the locomotive is leaning away from me -- it is. Railroad curves have a superelevated outside rail. This was the hero shot of the cover of my Spring 2014 PHYS-1070 Final Exam [Form-B]. The A-exam used the shot from March. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

BNSF SD70ACe 9271. Trailing units aren't nearly as photogenic as lead locomotives, but we're counting coup here. Also, those overhangs on the back of both locomotives on the left? Those are the oversized radiators to deal with the waste heat from the massive turbocharged 4400hp and 4300hp diesels engines. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

When we parked at the grocery store, we were far enough back to see the coal crowned the open hopper cars. Here at trackside you can't tell they're full unless you inspect the springs on the trucks (wheel mountings, bogeys in Europe). Old coal hoppers had triangular chutes underneath and unloaded by opening the doors. These cars have round bottoms. At one end there's a rotary mounted coupler, so the cars are turned upside-down two-at-a-time to unload. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

When driving south to the movie, I spotted this covered hopper on the siding at the pet food elevator on US-31, so I stopped to shoot it after groceries. At 55mph, couldn't tell if this was a paint job or an elaborate graffiti tag. Appears to be the latter. But Acer UNIX Erase? It could have been an ad for an Acer computer, which comes with both Windows and Linux, where you choose which one to run. This is the standard three-quarters view favored by railfans. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I moved the Bravada to get a better angle on the artwork. If you enlarge, I think you can guess that the Jetsons characters are tags, not commercial art. It's not too different from the previous shot, but there's a cool diagonal lens flare -- even without a lens hood, it's hard to get modern multicoated Nikon lenses to flare like older lenses. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

When the M-231 bypass around the Grand Haven US-31 lift bridge and Holland was first proposed, probably forty years ago, it was supposed to go from I-196 in the south to I-96 just north of a new Grand River crossing. Currently, if the Grand Haven lift bridge jams in the UP position, the detour is to 68th Avenue in Allendale -- a forty mile detour. The new as-built M-231 crossing will cut that in half when in gets finished in 2016.

View of M-231 construction looking north from M-45. You can see the overpass over Rich Street under construction in the distance. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Half a mile east of here they are widening the intersection with 120th Avenue which gets close to the US-31 freeway in Holland by the Chicago Avenue interchange. So the M-231 bypass doesn't actually connect with either US-31 or I-196 at the southern end.

Another way they're cheapening this project after farbling around for forty years putting it off is to make the southern end of M-231 just a grade level intersection with turn lanes under construction here, presumably with a traffic light at M-45. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Still, it is exciting to see progress on this. Next up, the northern end of the construction project.

Dr. Phil
Tags: construction, nikon, photos, trains

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