NY Rail Transit Bridges Over Navigable Water

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NY Rail Transit Bridges Over Navigable Water
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 10:51 PM

Other threads touched on this subject so I thought I would start a new thread.  I am trying to come up with a list of New York rapid transit (subway and elevated) bridges over navigable waterways that would have required draw bridges or high bridges to clear ships.  

Harlem River
Broadway (swing), active
Putnam (swing), removed, connection between Putnam commuter rail and transit
Second Ave (swing), removed, elevated
East River
Queensboro, transit removed
Williamsburg, active
Manhattan, active
Jamaica Bay
Beach Channel Draw, active
Broad Channel Draw, active
 
Are there any others?  I didn't include streetcar/trolley lines over these big bridges, but feel free to add them.
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, November 23, 2017 5:03 AM

There was some navigation at one time in what I believe was called the Gowanas Canal (Spelling?) that the current F-train routes crosses on its concret viaduct-like four-track structure on Ninth Street.  Not the BMT Culver line structure on Macdonald Avenue, but the IND-built structure on Ninth Street.  Is it still navigable?  Is there still water there?

A somewhat similar situation existed on the original two-track line share by both Sea Beach (now N) and West End (now B at that location) north of Stillwell Avenue, the oldest orginal RoW still in use on the subway system.  There was a Coney Island Canal (which is why Coney Island was an Island, not any more) and there was a drawbridge on the two-track line.  Now there are four tracks, with the B and N having direct separate double tracks to the Stillwell Avenue throat trackage, and I think the canal has been filled in, no more water to cross.  In the steam days, all four lines crossed water to get to Coney Island.

Third Avenue Transit streetcar tracks, always double tracks, across the Harlem River:

Broadway at Marble Hill, south from W. 225th Street, conduit and wire "B"

W. 207th Street - Fordham Road     wire   "X"

W. 181th Street - University and Ogdeln Avenues   - wire   "O" "U" "X" "Z"

W.  155th Street - McCoombs Dam Bridge   - wire   "O"  "X"  and once upon a time a Jerome Avenue line all the way north to Yonders Ave., Yonkers Race Track

W.  145th St. - 149th St.  wire, but conduit starts just west of the bridge, "X"

W. 138th St. - 138th St.   wire   "X"

Third Avenue  - 3rd Avenue  129th - 132 St.  wire     Shuttle  then service connection

First Avenue - Willis Avenue   129th - 132    wire but conduit started just south of the bridge

All East River bridges excep the Triboro had sreetcar tracks.  The Manhattan Bridge had four.  Various companies, complicated history.

The Brooklyn Bridge had two streetcar tracks and two tracks that began as a cable rapid-transit railway but became an essential part of the Brooklyn elevated railway system.

At one time a joint LIRR - BRT service, Chambers St. - Rockaway Park, used the existing "J" line tracks on the Williamsburg Bridge.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, November 23, 2017 8:43 PM

daveklepper

There was some navigation at one time in what I believe was called the Gowanas Canal (Spelling?) that the current F-train routes crosses on its concret viaduct-like four-track structure on Ninth Street.  Not the BMT Culver line structure on Macdonald Avenue, but the IND-built structure on Ninth Street.  Is it still navigable?  Is there still water there?

...

 

The Gowanas Canal is still navigable up to the end at Butler St., as evidenced by barges at that pont.  The 4 track subway viaduct at 9th St. seems to be called the Culver Viaduct.  Bridgehunter.com says it was built by the IND.

https://bridgehunter.com/ny/kings/7702590/

http://www.mytopo.com/maps/?lat=40.6743&lon=-73.99534&z=16

I could not find any waterways near McDonald Ave, however, an extension of McDonald Ave called Shell Road goes close to Coney Island.  Here are maps of Coney Island in 1889 when there were 5 Rail lines to the actual Island:

https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/img4/ht_icons/Browse/NY/NY_Brooklyn_8033200_1889_62500.jpg

And here is the present map:

http://www.mytopo.com/maps/?lat=40.6743&lon=-73.99534&z=16

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, November 24, 2017 1:35 AM

I firgit the southern part of the road is called Shell Road, but that is what I was listing.  Calling the IND 4-trackviaduct the Culver Viaduct may be a current convenience of the Transit Aithority, but it has nothing to do with Culver.  The original Culver Line was a surface steam railroad connecting several horsecar lines at the northwest corner of Prospect Park with Coney Island.  A route of branch was then run west of RoW to connection with the West End and Coney Island RR near 9th Avenue, and trackage rights to the 39th Street FErry to Manhattan.  Its first RoW became Gravesend Avenue (and Shell Road), with Gravesend Avenue being renamed McDonald Avenue, the surface tracks relegated to freight and streetcars with an elevated structure overhead.   The BMT Culver Line did not use the viaduct, running via the 9th Avenue junction with the West End Line, first on the 5th Avenue Elevated and  over the Brooklyn Bridge. later vis the 4th Avenue subway and both the Montague Street tunnel and Nassau Cut and the Manahttan Bridge, rush hour trains looping in Manahttan.  Before Unification, 1940, there was both subway and elevated service. 

The Viaduct was opened by the A train in 1934, and witin a year or two the A was rerouted along Fulton Street to Rockaway Avenue and the E replaced the A to Church Avenue.  When the Sixth Avenue subway was opened, 1941, the F replaced the e, again only to Church Avenue.  After Unification, a three-track ramp wss built from the Chruch Avenue IND "F" station to the Culver elecated structure at Ditmas AVenue station, but only one track was connected, off the northbound local track.  Around 1950 or 1952 the D replaced the F, the ramp tracks conected, the D replacing BMT Culver trains between Ditmas and Coney Island, and the BMT Culver trains reminated on a new westerly track at Ditmas.   Aa riding declined, the original subway Culver route was reduced to a Ditmas - 9th Avenue shuttle, then abandoned.  When the Chrystie Street connection was opened the D was rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge and the Brighton Line, and the F ran to Coney Island via the viaduct, the ramp, and the Culver elevated sructure.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, November 24, 2017 1:48 AM

And looking at the 1889 map, the easternmost railroad to Coney Island in currently missing and has been for about 80 years, with the four other now rapid transit lines, east to west B&Q, F, N, and B.

On the 1889 map West End (Bath Beach) snd Sea Beach are shown as separate routes to C. I.   This chaned when the BRT-BMT built the Stillwell Avenue C. I. Terminal.   Separated again in the  postWWII-war era. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, November 25, 2017 10:03 PM

Dave,  looking over your list of Harlem River bridges with trolley tracks, I can see that all bridges had tracks over the Harlem River except for ones like the aforementioned Triboro and the Henry Hudson, both which were opened in 1936, in the Robert Moses era, who was not a fan of transit.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, November 26, 2017 3:00 AM

Correct

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, November 26, 2017 10:46 PM

I also read up on the 4 major auto tunnels into Manhattan, and could not find any mention of consideration for trolley tracks, but then they were all completed after the late 20s.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, November 27, 2017 12:17 AM

However, the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson and the much later Verenzaro (Spelling?) bridge across New York Bay (Brooklyln - Staten Island) were built with structue to accomodate IND-BMT-type rapid-transit trains.  The specific structures are now occupied by roadways.  In the case of the GW, these are the bus-only lanes.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 27, 2017 9:05 AM

daveklepper
The specific structures are now occupied by roadways. In the case of the GW, these are the bus-only lanes.

Have they framed in and paved the area that was reserved for the IND connection?

I was fortunate to have had firsthand access to the Martha Washington Bridge blueprints (that IS the official name that appears on at least some of the blueprints -- it distinguishes the two decks at a glance and prevents confusion!) that show the 'transit' construction.  That was, and unless something radical has happened still is, the empty framed space between the two paved roadways on the lower deck.  (As I was told the story, the bridge was originally designed by Ammann to take a lower deck, even though none of its visible framing was done in initial construction, and the A train extension would have been built in the center of that lower deck for a variety of reasons -- and the lower deck that exists was adapted from the earlier planning with the framing points and loading for IND weights and clearances at least relatively intact.)

It might be added that, due to the design of the bridge and approaches on the east end, I think it would be hellishly difficult to connect from the center of the lower deck up to any of the platforms at the 178th Street bus terminal (where most of the traffic using a 'dedicated bus-only' lane would logically go, especially in rush hours).  On the west end, again the logical routing from the Bridge Plaza platforms, where any buses with even 'standee' capacity pick up trans-Bridge commuters, is difficult at best to access the lower deck at all, whereas it's a straight shot to the upper-deck plaza and then almost a straight shot up to the terminal.  All this does not bode well for using the lower-deck space as dedicated bus lanes, although I suppose it is certainly better than no lanes at all.

Regarding 'that other bridge' -- the correct spelling is something of interest.  I had never realized that the name actually is hyphenated ("Verrazano-Narrows Bridge") I guess I was ASSuming that the place it was built is called the Verrazano Narrows.  And the name itself is misspelled (the Florentine spelled his name 'da Verrazzano'.)

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 27, 2017 9:20 AM

MidlandMike
I also read up on the 4 major auto tunnels into Manhattan, and could not find any mention of consideration for trolley tracks, but then they were all completed after the late 20s.

The Holland Tunnel of course needed no 'transit' lanes -- there was the H&M as expanded there already, with far more convenient access to midtown than any automobile tunnel could provide without immense structural improvements.  The Lincoln Tunnel likewise duplicates access via the PRR North River Tunnels, and early on had (for its day) very direct connection to the 40th Street bus terminal; why anyone sane would consider dedicating a whole lane to steel-rail service that could handle only a tiny proportion of the riders approaching the tunnel from all directions that can be accommodated easily via buses coming from all the directions involved, I can't see.  (This would only become more pointed as traffic increased over the years; it would be amusing to see anyone try to implement the counterflow bus lane on the Lincoln Tunnel with any kind of trolley at all, even with CBTC). 

The Queens-Midtown tunnel likewise would need fairly immense construction to get its endpoints connected to any rail service, and by the mid-Thirties there was precious little of that down low enough to use a dedicated lane.  Likewise where the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel ends on the Manhattan end is not a particularly 'rail-friendly zone' -- crayonistas can have a field day trying to figure out where to connect the dots not already connected with subway tunnels.

In all these cases, the agencies involved with actually funding and administering these tunnels got much more 'bang for the buck' in developing only vehicle lanes.  I doubt by that time you'd find any public-service company still in private hands that could pay any meaningful percentage of a dedicated rail-transit tunnel, and of course there's no need for a bus company to do so.

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, November 27, 2017 12:33 PM

Holland Tunnel has some New York Central history to it. Commodore Vanderbilt's statue at Grand Central Terminal originally resided atop the old St. Johns Park freight station, which demolished became the approach to the tunnel.

https://knowledge-leader.colliers.com/richard-charkham/hudson-square/

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, November 27, 2017 5:31 PM

Except for some of the East River and Harlem River spans, most of the larger bridges were built by Robert Moses' Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.  Until it was wrested from Moses' grasp by Nelson Rockefeller in the mid-1960s, Triboro did everything it could to prevent rail access to Manhattan.  Triboro wasn't particularly bus-friendly either.  Even though Moses never learned to drive, he believed that roads and bridges should only be for individual automobiles.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 9:20 AM

The GWB two rail transit lanes were to be connected to the IND A, also then AA. later BB, then B, now C, at 168th Station.  The tunnel still exists, has not been filled in, and is locaated at the noth end of the underground 168th Street layup yard north of the station.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 2:13 PM

daveklepper
The GWB two rail transit lanes were to be connected to the IND A, also then AA. later BB, then B, at 168th Station.

Perhaps you also have, or know where to find, a detailed grade diagram where the line was to descend the Palisades.  My understanding was that it would follow New Jersey Rt. 4 down the valley past Jones Rd. and over Grand Avenue and the Erie Northern Branch on its way to Hackensack, in the days before the whole area was massively regraded and cut away for 80/95.  I think there were to be connections with the Northern, the West Shore, the Pascack Valley line and various Public Service routes, perhaps involving the final years of trolley service north-south along the top of the Palisades, north via Coytesville for example.  I suspect there might have been a connection with the Susquehanna at the Hackensack end.

The alternative would be to have the line follow roughly what is now Rt. 46 down through Fort Lee and Leonia, and then perhaps run to where the Suskie went through the Palisades tunnel.  But that is more steeply graded and, I think, would require some sharper curves.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 2:28 PM

rcdrye
Even though Moses never learned to drive, he believed that roads and bridges should only be for individual automobiles.

And notoriously enforced that with 11'4" overhead bridge clearances as well as very strict restrictions not only on trucks, but on any vehicle, even a small one, with a commercial plate.

The worst problem I saw in New York was an artifact of Moses engineering, translated up to a more modern era of rebuilding.  This was at the tunnel of the East River Drive under Carl Schurz Park around 92nd St.  That tunnel had the misfortune of having its ceiling height taper from high to low going southbound, and as I recall was not specifically placarded as being lower than usual clearance (as all the parkways were posted at their entrances, or supposed to be.

Some fellow from North Carolina had an entire trailer load of extra-height wallboard to be used in one of the high-ceiling condo projects that were so popular on the East Side in the '80s.  Hundreds and hundreds of sheets, all helpfully stacked vertically on the trailer.  He either decided he could sneak down the East Side during the dark hours, or he had some version of maps that showed him what looked like a more direct route, so he came over the bridge and started downtown, evidently at some speed judging by how far he got after the tips of his load began to contact the closing ceiling.

He broke every piece of wallboard on the truck, about 4' or so from the top, and they all bent backward, forming a very effective ratchet against extracting the thing even with all the air out of the bogie tires.  When I passed this spectacle (at about 9:30am, having been in traffic since about 6:00) things had proceeded to multiple workers with sledgehammers breaking up every piece of wallboard and bundling it off the truck, after which they were preparing to tow it backward somehow ... I was soooo glad I didn't have to watch that part.

As another aside: if New York had been consistent with its bans on trucks on the parkways in the Beame years in the '70s, we might still have a real West Side Highway: they ran a loaded garbage truck on one of the elevated sections, which had NOT been built for anywhere near that load and was deteriorated with salt and lack of maintenance, and of course it started falling through.  This was right at the time I was first driving, but I had taken ONE trip downtown and around the tip of the island to the east side at 60mph at high level, with the Thunderbird top down, and that will have to last me in memory; it would NOT have been the same if the trucks were allowed there instead of being relegated to the lower streets...

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 8:45 PM

Would proposed trains on the GW Bridge that connected with NY transit, have been run by the Port Authority, since they seemed to have exclusive rights on trans-Hudson transit ?

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, November 30, 2017 2:06 PM

The complex political environmnet was one of the reasons the rapid transi line across the bridge was not built.

Difficul to imagine Port Authority trains on Transit Authority tracks, but it could ahve been possible.   Then again, whose taxes are going subsidize the service?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:56 PM

I was thinking NYCT riders would transfer to PATH cars like they can do at other PATH lines in Manhattan.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, December 01, 2017 7:29 AM

From the plans I saw the first station the trains across the bridge would see on the Manhattan side would the 168th Street station, same tracks as used today by the A and C,

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 01, 2017 9:02 PM

MidlandMike
I was thinking NYCT riders would transfer to PATH cars like they can do at other PATH lines in Manhattan.

I think what he means is that riders coming into 168th St. both ways on the IND would detrain and transfer to a train of "PATH" equipment, which perhaps was laying over in the 'yard' north of the station before running down and changing ends, and that train would proceed north through the approach, go over the Bridge, and then travel by whatever route through New Jersey on a line worked like the H&M, perhaps with a pool of employees derived from that line.  I don't know how much 'extra' would be required to handle the extra width of the PATH equipment, but the FRA compliance would permit diversion on the Susquehanna line itself, or putting third rail on one of the existing routes if desired, which might be interesting in a non-Depression New Era.  Conversely, a new route via the valley now occupied by 95 and 80 would be orthogonal to existing then-private routes that would feed it effectively 'from both directions', and I suspect a number of park-and-rides could have been built for other local areas.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 02, 2017 1:19 PM

IND-BMT (NYCTA B Division) is as wide as standard railway passenger equipment.

At floor level, PATH equipment is narrower, approximately the same as IRT (NYCTA A Divison plus No. 7 Line), the old elevated equipment, LIRR's original MP-43 MUs and CTA equipment.

If PATH were to provide GWB service, the cars for that service would be the same width as the cars currently using the 168th Street IND Station.  They would not be the same as those used in the two PATH tunnels.

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