Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Watching Boeing 737s pass via rail is part of daily life in Renton, Washington.
Residents of Renton, Washington, have gotten used to an unusual sight -- a bunch of jets, plopped atop some trains, trekked through the center of town.
The fuselages travel from Witchita, Kansas, into the town's Boeing plant on a regular basis. With demand for commercial air-crafts on the rise, Boeing has been especially busy of late, increasing jet output by 40 percent over the last three years. The Reston plant builds 737s, 38 of them a month last year ,with the goal of churning out 47 a month by 2017, according to the Seattle Times.
Renton's growth, however, stands out as an employment bright spot for the aircraft giant. As of last fall, Boeing was expected to lay off 700 engineers company-wide, and 800 machinists at the nearby Everett, Washington, facility. Some of them may be re-hired to work in Renton.
To get the fuselages in from Kansas by train, Boeing modified BNSF Railway Company's 89-foot railway cars. BNSF's president explained to the Puget Sound Business Journal that "literally a scratch on these things causes a lot of concern,” meaning workers will sometimes have to clear away brush and tree branches just to make sure the 737s pass by untouched. An impressive feat considering all it has to pass by on the way to the factory:
A BNSF train is pictured delivering a Boeing 737 fuselage in Renton, Washington February 26, 2014. (REUTERS/Jason Redmond)