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CSX and contractor crews completed several projects on the Cutoff to keep traffic flowing during the tunnel modifications and improve access to the signals and other equipment. One major project was the installation of a dou- ble crossover between Stuart and Graham tun- nels, which was placed in service in early June 2011. The crossover enables trains to cross from one track to another so crews can work above one track inside the tunnels while traffic continues to flow. In conjunction with this phase of the project, a huge amount of dirt and rock was excavated from both sides of the tracks from the Magnolia Bridge over the Po- tomac River to the west portal of Stuart tunnel. The west portal, which used to be in a very dark, tight cut, is now wide open and easily photographed.


In addition, the classic B&O color position


light (CPL) signals and their supports were re- placed with new Safetrans tricolor signals, which are now widely seen on many CSX lines. Most railfans will miss the CPL’s, which had been in service for over 60 years, as they were one of the Cutoff’s many attractive features, in addition to the outstanding photo locations. They replaced the original upper quadrant semaphore signals which were installed when


the Cutoff was opened in 1914. In the search for reliable signals which had no moving parts, B&O superintendent of signaling Frank Pate-


A CONTRACTOR’S WORK TRAIN enters Randolph Tunnel (left). After a crew in the tunnel removes concrete from the ceiling, workers on this train will drill holes into the ceiling and insert roof bolts, like those used in mines. Next, the roof is shotcreted to reinforce it where concrete had been removed. Contractors inside the tunnel (bottom left) remove concrete from the ceiling liner with a jackhammer on the boom of an hydraulic excavator. A pair of new Safetran tri-color signals have been installed 150 feet from the west portal of Stuart Tunnel (above) and guard the east end of the new CP Magnolia double crossover. Train Q217 (below) passes beneath the new signal bridge at the west end of CP Magnolia. It was erected just a few weeks before the photo was taken, and replaced the color position light signals which stood at this location for 60 years.


nal developed the color position light signal in 1920. Although CPL’s were a significant im- provement over semaphores, some “blades” re- mained in service on the Cutoff for many years. Published photos show CPL’s in a few locations on the Cutoff in the 1930s, others show sema- phores still in service in the late 1940s. By the mid-1950s all the semaphores had been re- placed by CPL’s on the Cutoff.


Crews work Sundays through Thursdays. A


curfew is imposed around 11:00 a.m. (right after the eastbound Capitol Limited), and is in effect until around 5:00 p.m. —ALEXMAYES


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