Photos show rail-tie crack problem on Blue Line extension

by: Paul Boyd Updated:

Channel 9 obtained photos that show, for the first time, the significance of the rail-tie cracking problem on the Lynx Blue Line extension.

The serious problem could mean future repairs using tax dollars.

They're supposed to be brand new concrete ties on a $1.6 billion project.

Channel 9 obtained images through a public records request where many show significant cracking and structural damage.

Much of the cracking runs right down the side of the rail ties.

Charlotte Area Transit System officials said these ties have already been replaced and there are no safety issues, but University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor Eric Heberlig believes taxpayers have reason to be concerned.

"Having cracked ties means you're going to have to replace them more quickly over time," Heberlig said.

CATS officials insist there will be no additional cost to taxpayers for replacement or repairs, but that's been refuted by its own internal documents about future maintenance costs.

More than 2,700 rail ties are only being sealed with epoxy, and another 2,400 concrete ties have been marked for replacement.

In all, more than 5,100 rail ties have experienced cracking issues on the project, which represents 13 percent of the total rail ties installed on the new Blue Line extension.        

"Generally, citizens are concerned because these projects are very expensive and they don't like mistakes that are going to cost them long-term," Heberlig said.

 

CATS officials said it now has a quality assurance program in place to ensure the safety of the new rail line so each tie is now inspected every five weeks.

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