Raising Amtrak routes above future sea level

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neroden

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2 foot rise within a few years, 10 foot rise likely to follow.


This will be a problem for every route which goes near the coast, and their yards. (As well as for lots of other infrastructure in the same cities.) I still believe Hialeah Yard in Miami needs to be vacated and relocated somewhere with much higher elevation, further north. (How about Albany NY?) Sunnyside Yard in Queens is at risk too and so is Boston. Perhaps most at risk is the route from Seattle north along the beach, which is pretty much hopeless and will require a completely new route.
 
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I believe the BNSF seawall track north of Seattle averages about 15 feet above sea level.

The lowest point is on the Bellingham Subdivision just north of the North South Bellingham switch where during king tides with storms the waters of Bellingham Bay laps the bayside mainline ties.

DSCN1144.JPG
It actually does get worse than this example.
 
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There are reports available on the Amtrak site that discuss this. Businessweek had an interesting article (2018?) with a graphical representation of the effect on the NEC, it's on the server in the school where I sometimes used it in a class I was teaching for electrical apprentices. If I can find it on a flash drive at home I'll post it later.
 
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Yes, but I had it without the add for subscription.....There is a section of the article where the graphics represent the water levels in different areas over time.....I used the metro NYC area and asked students to raise there hand if they lived in an area expected to be impacted by the sea level rise and greater storm surges.
 

Cal

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Perhaps most at risk is the route from Seattle north along the beach, which is pretty much hopeless and will require a completely new route.
Would only need a different route to avoid the tracks that skirt Pablo bay. I think the rest in California are safe, but erosion is also a thing so 🤷🏻
 
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Would it really make a difference? The cities and towns will be flooded so unless local transit consists of ferry boats, there would be no need for the train anyway. Moving or raising the tracks is nickel-dime in cost vs moving the cities or even building giant walls around them and their suburbs as they turn into islands off the coast. Unless the fright ships own the waters, Amtak could become Amtrak Ferry Line and not need to be bothered anywhere as much by freight interference and delays.
 

joelkfla

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Would it really make a difference? The cities and towns will be flooded so unless local transit consists of ferry boats, there would be no need for the train anyway. Moving or raising the tracks is nickel-dime in cost vs moving the cities or even building giant walls around them and their suburbs as they turn into islands off the coast. Unless the fright ships own the waters, Amtak could become Amtrak Ferry Line and not need to be bothered anywhere as much by freight interference and delays.
OK, but if NYC & Wash DC or Philly are still there, Amtrak still needs to get across or around the Jersey wetlands to get between them.

But I'm with you on being disgusted that the global problem is still being ignored for the most part.
 
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The real doomsday scenario might well be in South Florida. They can build dikes and stuff to keep the sea away from the NEC and the Capitol Corridor that skirts San Pablo Bay, but South Florida is underlain by very, very porous, permeable reef rock that doesn't allow dikes to be effective. The changing sea level just propagates itself through the rocks under the dikes. Also, a two-foot rise is sea level would wreak havoc with anything that requires gravity drainage, and this is not only for storm sewers, it's also for sanitary sewers. In other words, a lot of South Florida, even places not right by the water will be rendered more or less uninhabitable. Expect a lot of new development in the Orlando-Ocala area as people relocate.
 
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Would only need a different route to avoid the tracks that skirt Pablo bay. I think the rest in California are safe, but erosion is also a thing so 🤷🏻
I see potential danger for the Coast Line north of Oxnard and Ventura. Also, the Surfliner route south of San Clemente to Oceanside (already having erosion/settling problems).
 
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Willbridge

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When the BN was into selling off chunks of its system, they disposed of their higher elevation line between Puget Sound and British Columbia (see attached flyer). On the other hand, flooding with rainwater got to be a problem at the Sumas/Huntingdon border crossing. I have a grandson who has a knack for technology - I think there'll be lots of opportunities in railway maintenance of way engineering.

1966 10 15 NP Canada001.jpg
 

George Harris

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2 foot rise within a few years, 10 foot rise likely to follow.


This will be a problem for every route which goes near the coast, and their yards.
Perhaps before we decide the sky is falling, we should do a little arithmetic.
just for reference, From NOAA: Volumes of the World's Oceans from ETOPO1 | NCEI
Surface area of the oceans, 361,900,000 sq km = 139,700,000 sq mi (to 4 significant figures
which covers approximately 70.9% of the total earth's surface
Area of Florida: 65,758 sq mile from Wiki. = 170,312 sq km, for the sake of keeping all in the same units
However, if we go to ITGC Thwaites Glacier
We get the following:
The area is really larger than Florida.
The Thwaites glacier basin measures 192,000 sq km, however, note this says basin, so is this the area of the glacier itself or is it more?
The glacier is between 800 meters and 1200 meters thick "at its grounding line"
Then as we go down the info we get to the panic statement: "If Thwaites Glacier was to collapse entirely, global sea levels would increase by 65 cm (25 in)"

But wait! Don't stop yet. Go a little further and you find, "Collapse of the glacier would require a few centuries.":

This is stashed in with such information as, that its current rate of net loss is around 50 billion tonnes of ice per year, which is equivalent to about 4% of the net annual sea level rise of 3.5 mm, that is millimeters, folks.

The Glacier site ends on this panic note:

More about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)
20. WAIS is large! 14 times the size of Great Britain, about the size of India, nearly twice the area of Alaska, or more than 100 times the area of Belgium.

21. If the WAIS collapsed and melted in its entirety, global sea levels would rise by 3.3 metres; however, this process would require centuries to millennia. (Source: Bamber et al., 10.1126/science.1169335)

When reading it, don't miss, "this process would require centuries to millennia."

Given that all these possibilities are being developed on straight line or even "hockey stick" projections of measurements over relative short periods, 15 to 50 years, at most, much can happen far different from any of these projections. Within my lifetime I have seen the Great Salt Lake going from, "oh no! It's drying up" to "oh no! we are going to have to raise I-80" back to "Oh no, it is drying up"
 

peteypablo

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I’m willing to put money and/or my reputation where my mouth is. Global sea level will rise, but it will not rise two feet within three years. It might rise two feet by 2100, but I’d happily offer an even odds bet on that, though we’d have to find a committee of teenagers to hold the stakes until the bet matures👻.
 

SwedeC

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From NOAA:
Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average—the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present). Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.
 

George Harris

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finally! Back in Mississippi
Take that bet!
I would see if you would bet with me also, and give you odds up to even 10:1, but for:
1. I don't gamble.
2. I won't be around to collect, and 78 years from now most of my grandchildren probably won't be either.

From NOAA: . . . Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.
Just said that above as in "net annual sea level rise of 3.5 mm"
3.5 mm = 0.138 inches, or 1/8 inch if to nearest 1/32 inch
1/8 inch = 3.175 mm exactly, or we could call it 3.2 mm as being more precise in pointless, but suspecting the original was done in metric units, again we get if the original calcs came up with 3.5 mm you would call it 1/8 inch in our more sensible measuring system.
 

DaveW

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at 1/8" per year, we will be at 2' in hardly no time ....

compounding the issue is the west coast land is rising (sea level has gone down in Alaska)

and according to Bill Nye the science propaganda guy, when salt water increases in temperature, it expands. Sea level rise would not just be added water but also warmer water.
 

peteypablo

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at 1/8" per year, we will be at 2' in hardly no time ....

compounding the issue is the west coast land is rising (sea level has gone down in Alaska)

and according to Bill Nye the science propaganda guy, when salt water increases in temperature, it expands. Sea level rise would not just be added water but also warmer water.

Yes, a mere 192 years.
 

peteypablo

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I would see if you would bet with me also, and give you odds up to even 10:1, but for:
1. I don't gamble.
2. I won't be around to collect, and 78 years from now most of my grandchildren probably won't be either.


Just said that above as in "net annual sea level rise of 3.5 mm"
3.5 mm = 0.138 inches, or 1/8 inch if to nearest 1/32 inch
1/8 inch = 3.175 mm exactly, or we could call it 3.2 mm as being more precise in pointless, but suspecting the original was done in metric units, again we get if the original calcs came up with 3.5 mm you would call it 1/8 inch in our more sensible measuring system.

Math is hard. I prefer feelings.
 

pennyk

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