Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar: Railroad Ballast Stone in Michigan

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar
Thursday, November 7, 4 – 5 pm, Room 641 Dow

Title: “A Search for a Source of Railroad Ballast Stone in Michigan”
Kurt Breitenbucher

Through NURail Funding and the Michigan Department of Transportation, improvements will be made to the existing Wolverine Line between Chicago and Detroit. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current MDOT railroad ballast specifications and compare them to both the national standards as well as international ones. In the case where the current MDOT or AREMA standards are not acceptable, identify a proper testing methodology and suggest a new standard to be used for high-speed rail ballast both sourced and used in Michigan. Much of Michigan lies in a sedimentary basin; this material generally makes poor rail ballast due to polishing and weathering. The Upper Peninsula contains more igneous rocks due to the rifting that occurred in the area. There are also a number of mines that generate poor rock that will be investigated as a ballast material. This project will also propose methods of transport for ballast material sourced in Michigan. Once the material sources are identified, their qualities will be assessed with various index tests and a study will be done to assess their rate sensitivity (dynamic strength testing.)

Kurt Breitenbucher is currently a Masters Candidate at Michigan Technological University, expecting to graduate in December 2013, with an emphasis in Geotechnical Engineering. He received his Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University in August 2012.