The mechanized trains of equipment kept the job on budget and ahead of schedule.
J. F. White Contracting Company, one of Massachusetts’ largest heavy/civil contractors, is about to finish rebuilding a 56-mi. (90 km) commuter railway in metropolitan Boston. It is nearly a year ahead of schedule and under budget, due to the company’s unique use of three “trains” of multiple excavators mounted on railroad bodies, outfitted with complex and semi-automated hydraulic attachments.
“In preparing our bid to win the contract,” said Nick Bruno, J.F. White’s project superintendent, “we felt an aggressive plan incorporating the newest technology, new or nearly new equipment, and a proven work force would not only win us the contract, but allow us to confidently shoot for earning the bonus of an early completion.”
The specialized equipment has been sourced from several places. One is Rail Construction Equipment (RCE), a Chicago-based manufacturer of specialized attachments designed for Hitachi excavators and Deere wheel loaders and motorgraders. Another is Taibbi Equipment Corporation, a local minority-owned equipment-leasing company. Not only did it rent out new Hitachi ZX80 excavators with special attachments already mounted to high-rail bases, but it provided skilled operators as well.
J.F. White found this combo package especially attractive. And Schmidt Equipment, the Massachusetts Hitachi/John Deere dealer, also has provided equipment and technical expertise.
Overall, although some equipment pieces were bought, most have been rented.
Keeping on Track
The project calls for the removal of 160,000 concrete ties that had prematurely failed, and the installation of 187,000 new wooden ties in their place.
Work began at 9 a.m. weekdays, after the last morning-rush commuter train has run and rail service suspended. By 3:30 p.m., the track must be completely restored to service, so the afternoon rush trains can run. During those six and-a-half hours, buses ferry commuters from station to station, arranged for by J.F. White. In addition, 56 railroad grade crossings are being totally rebuilt. This is done on the weekends, when the tracks and roads can be completely shut down.
Besides the ZX80s, a ZX190W-3, customized with a high-rail base and grapple, loads up the old concrete ties for trips to a recycling crusher.
Due to the nonstop reliability of the Hitachi equipment plus the tight management and oversight of J.F. White, the project should be completed in under half the time budgeted by the railway’s owner, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
J.F. White is a longtime, loyal user of Hitachi excavators, with a fleet ranging from the ZX80s leased for this project to a number of ZX190W-3 wheeled excavators and the larger ZX450 excavators.
This article was reprinted with permission from Hitachi Breakout Magazine first issue of 2012.
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