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Rebuilding the Park Avenue Viaduct

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Rebuilding the Park Avenue Viaduct
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, October 27, 2023 3:10 AM
(Three speeches have edited out.)

 

ICYMI: Governor Hochul Announces Commencement of Construction Work on Metro-North Park Avenue Viaduct Replacement Project

 

$590 Million Phase 1 of Project to Replace the Vital Structure Carrying All Metro-North Trains Into and Out of Grand Central Terminal Is Underway 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that reconstruction work on the 130-year-old Park Avenue Viaduct in East Harlem has begun as areas underneath have been cleared for the viaduct's new foundations and columns that will support the new structure. 

“Carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers every day, the Park Avenue Viaduct is a critical piece of our transportation infrastructure,” Governor Hochul said. “This replacement is essential to providing faster and safer service to our Metro-North customers, while minimizing impact to the local community.” 

The Park Avenue Viaduct is an elevated steel structure that carries four Metro-North Railroad tracks along Park Avenue between East 110th Street and the Harlem River Lift Bridge. Metro-North Railroad trains traveling along the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines utilize the Park Avenue Viaduct to access Harlem-125th Street Station and Grand Central Terminal, totaling 98% of Metro-North trains. 

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “The Park Avenue Viaduct is a critical link between Grand Central Terminal and every city, town and village that Metro-North Railroad services in the Bronx, north of New York City and in Connecticut. Brilliant engineers and builders left a structure that has lasted for 130 years, but we need to overhaul it to keep service safe for the 21st century.” 

MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said, Park Avenue Viaduct infrastructure is well past its useful life and it’s time to build a more resilient viaduct that can serve the region for another hundred years. MTA C&D will utilize innovative modern tools and materials to reduce construction noise and vibrations to the surrounding neighborhoods, and we are coordinating closely with the City of New York to integrate this project with DOT street improvements.” 

MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi said, “Every train Metro-North operates east of the Hudson River – 750 passenger trains a day – either travels over the Park Avenue Viaduct or connects with a train that does. So to call this 130-year-old infrastructure ‘critical’ seems like an understatement. Metro-North is extremely appreciative that MTA Construction & Development has prioritized replacement of the viaduct in a timely way that will allow the railroad to continue operations without significant disruption to schedules.” 

The $590 million for the first phase of the Park Avenue Viaduct Replacement project will replace major segments of the elevated steel structure, nearly half of which was first built in 1893, to ensure it remains in a state of good repair; $500.9 million is federally funded. 

Phase 1 work will include replacing existing structures, tracks, power, communications, and signal system from East 115th Street to East 123rd Street. Phase 1 construction will continue through 2026. Work currently is underway for substructure construction, focusing on the viaduct’s foundations and columns. 

The project seeks to minimize impacts on the surrounding community by strategically phasing the work, which also results in limited impacts to Metro-North train schedules. In line with community feedback and in conjunction with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), project design elements will include: a more welcoming lighter color structure, improved lighting, and increased pedestrian safety under the viaduct. By utilizing modern design standards and materials, the new structure is expected to reduce local noise and vibration levels as compared to existing levels. MTA Arts & Design is also coordinating a permanent art installation for 116th Street as part of the project. The project builds on more than $24 million of recent MTA investment in the Harlem-125th Street Station area, including lighting improvements, station work performed under the enhanced station initiative, customer service kiosk enhancements, stairwell replacement, and the painting of other sections of the viaduct. 

As a part of the project, the MTA has entered into a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Vicinity (BCTC), its participating affiliated local unions, and their members. The agreement – representing the first PLA since the creation of MTA C&D in 2019 – is a commitment to working with union partners to improve labor efficiency and reduce costs on capital projects without compromising worker pay or safety. Cost savings are expected through improved work rules – such as unified holidays, 40-hour work weeks, flexible start times, and maximum use of apprenticeships – as well as enabling health insurance reforms that provide better treatment of workplace injuries and reduce lost time.

In an effort to educate the community on the project, the project team has conducted dozens of local pop-up information sessions in the East Harlem community and partnered with East Harlem schools to bring hours of STEM programming to over 500 students. As further commitment to continued two-way dialogue with the community, the project has employed a dedicated, full-time bilingual (English/Spanish) Construction Community Liaison who is available to answer questions and provide updates on project progress. 

Project Benefits 

  • Maintains public safety, makes the viaduct more resilient, and ensures continued Metro-North service for the 98% of Metro-North trains reliant on the viaduct for service. 
  • Reduced local noise and vibration levels through utilization of modern design standards and materials.
  • Increased pedestrian safety under the viaduct.
  • Permanent art installation at 116th Street.

Project Timeline 

Phase 1 construction   

  • Q3 2023: Construction activity underneath the viaduct (substructure construction) begins. 
  • Q2 2024: Construction on the viaduct (superstructure construction) begins. 
  • 2026: Phase 1 concludes. 

For more information about the project, please visit the project webpage here. The public can direct project questions or request addition to the project’s newsletter and construction notices by contacting pavoutreach@mtacd.org or calling (347) 422-7780

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, October 27, 2023 3:13 AM

Instead of my taking a huge time to edit-to-fit, I ask the reader to just use the reply button, and you will then be able to read the whole text without problems,

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, October 27, 2023 9:40 PM

I wonder if the new viaduct will allow increased axle loads.  I understand that the extra axle of the B-A1A wheel arrangement of the FL-9 was to handle the extra weight of its electrical equipment over the viaduct.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, October 28, 2023 10:02 AM

I don't think so.  That would require heavier structural members and probably a redesign of the whole viaduct.  Compare the replacement of South Shore's viaduct near 130th and Torrence with a truss bridge as part of the CREATE project.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, October 28, 2023 1:03 PM

As far as I know, absolutely zero common-carrier freight is handled over the viaduct, and there is no reasom to rebuild it for increased axle-loads.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, October 28, 2023 9:04 PM

My information tells me that the FL-9 needed the extra axle specifically for the Park Ave Viaduct, which tells me that it was the weak link on the New Haven line.  If they are going to replace it, why not replace it with something comparable to the rest of the line.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, October 29, 2023 12:25 PM

The extra axle was for the extra weight of the late-Fifties technology 750VDC dual-mode installation.  The P32DMs do not have any weight restriction on the viaduct despite having nearly twice the rated horsepower, and presumably any high-speed-engined replacements would use simple conversion of the 750V to use with inverter-fed AC traction motors.  It is difficult for me to imagine any service on this line that would require a heavier axle loading (or stiffer track modulus).  It is also difficult to imagine political permission to increase speed on the viaduct and in the tunnel on the stretch between 125th St. and GCT.  Any true HSR using this as last-mile connection would have both lower axle loading and lower unsprung mass.

Of course I'm sure that Hochul & Co. and all the union management would love an excuse to do expen$ive and unnecessary "infrastructure capacity improvement" on this very visible little piece of line.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, October 29, 2023 4:03 PM

Overmod, I do expext a moderate increase in speed on the viaduct and in the tunnels, but that wsill not require support of greater weight.  Otherweise, your usual excellence in explaining things.  Thanks.

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