Lately it seems as though the Portland & Western is doing lots of maintenance on the old Oregon Electric track in and near Albany. Anyway that’s the impression I got on a bike ride in spring-like weather Thursday afternoon.
Near the grade crossing on Riverside Drive, the operator of a ballast-spreading machine was busy, well, spreading ballast. I had never seen that done this way. The operator was just about finished there, but I caught a few seconds of the work in the video above. Sure beats shoveling the rocks by hand.
The crossing gates evidently had been shut off for this work. Otherwise they would have blocked traffic as long as that machine was working close by.
My ride out Riverside took me back to town via Bryant Drive. On Water Avenue, a crew was doing a different kind of work. Straightening out the rails, one of the guys in hard hats explained to me. He pointed east, where we could see up-and-down and sideways undulations in the rails. The working of this machine (video below) is intended to take care of that, as I understood the explanation.
Replacing cross ties was part of the job. Hundreds of brand news ties had been stored along the track east of Burkhart Street. Now they’re gone, having been put under the rails where they belong.
All this work follows an extensive job last year replacing many of the timbers on the trestle across and along the Calapooia River. As you pass under the track at Bryant Park now, the penetrating smell of creosote is almost gone. All you get is an occasional whiff that reminds of all the work done there. (hh)