Category Archives: New Haven RR

Connecticut’s WALK BRIDGE: Save It, Replace It or Reuse Parts?

A lot of more than just local interest in the “WALK BRIDGE” in Norwalk, Connecticut. The Metro-North Railroad Walk Bridge in Norwalk, Conn. Some Norwalk officials are calling for the Connecticut Department of Transportation to replace the Walk Bridge with an ‘iconic’ structure and some residents will likely miss the existing 120-year-old bridge. The Norwalk Preservation Trust states that the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and if the state must replace the bridge it should fully fund a Norwalk Historical Society Museum exhibit on the bridge and railroad.

This bridge carries not only dozens of Metro-North commuter trains, but also vital to AMTRAKs NorthEast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.

As the state gears up to replace the Walk Bridge, sentimentality is growing among local people over the iconic structure that has marked Norwalk’s skyline for 120 years.
“The loss of the existing bridge, its catenaries and high towers, as well as its brownstone structural elements would forever change the character of the area,” wrote the Norwalk Preservation Trust in its response to the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s report on the project. “We respectfully request that the repair and retention of the existing bridge be given further study in the hopes that demolition can be avoided.”

If the railroad bridge and its “associated elements must be demolished,” the NPT wants the DOT take a number of mitigation measures such as leaving the historic granite or brownstone abutments in place, or reusing them as part of the new bridge.

When built in 1896, the bridge was both state-of-the-art and also the last of its breed.
“In its wide proportions and heavy steel construction, the Norwalk bridge exemplifies the railroad swing bridge at its height of development: after the mid- 1890s, nearly all movable bridges were bascules of one type or another,” reads a portion of the nomination report that landed the bridge on the register.

Dick Carpenter of East Norwalk, author of “A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946,” said the Walk Bridge is the only four-track swing bridge that he knows of on a major rail line in the nation. That and its age are its distinguishing characteristics, he said

DOT, after considering more than 70 design concepts, ruled out repairing the existing bridge or replacing it with a fixed-bridge. The state’s preferred replacement is a 240-foot vertical lift bridge that would cost $425 million to $460 million to build. Work is slated to start in mid-2018.

“We are aware of numerous other century old bridges across the country that have been repaired and maintained and are expected to last for another century and beyond, such as the Williamsburg Bridge in New York,”

Hell Gate Bridge Centennial

When the Hell Gate Bridge was completed in September 1916 it was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world. Its construction, using more steel than the Manhattan and Queensboro Bridges combined, began in 1912.

Antonio Meloni, a member of Community Board 1 and Director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, speaking at the April 26 meeting of the 114th Precinct Community Council, is seeking to engage the community in the upcoming centennial of the Hell Gate Bridge.

“It’s a landmark, we grew up with it (and) we should adopt it as our own,” Meloni said.

The bridge crosses Hell Gate, a strait in the East River, between Astoria and Randalls and Wards Islands.

Dedicated and officially opened to rail traffic on March 9, 1917, the first direct rail service between Washington D.C. and Boston Massachusetts was established when a Pennsylvania Railroad train went over the bridge about a month later on April 1.

A series of possible celebrations, including fireworks, historical tours, a badly needed paint job, and lighting are among the ways the Hell Gate centennial could be marked said Meloni.

“We’re trying to involve Amtrak,” he said.

The Hell Gate Bridge is owned and maintained by Amtrak and still has the 17th longest main steel arch span in the world. It is an essential part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network.

Amtrak, or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, was founded in 1971 to take over intercity passenger rail service that had been previously operated by private railroads.

The NEC, 80 percent of which is owned and/or maintained by Amtrak, is the busiest passenger railroad network in the United States and its mainline between Boston Massachusetts and Washington D.C. carries more than 700,000 commuter rail and 40,000 Amtrak trips each day into and out of several large economic markets.

The Hell Gate carries Amtrak NEC trains on its two south tracks and CSX and Norfolk Southern freight trains on its north inner track. The north outer track is not in operation.

Penn Station Access, a projected $695 million project in Amtrak’s fiscal 2017- 2021 budget, would use the Hell Gate Bridge to connect the New Haven Line to Penn Station.

Gustave Lindenthal, also involved in the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge and construction of the Manhattan Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge, developed plans for the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1892 as a way to bring rail traffic from Pennsylvania Railroad routes in New Jersey through New York City to New England.

The Pennsylvania Railroad bridge project, originally called, The East River Arch Bridge, chose Lindenthal as consulting engineer and bridge architect in 1904 for the eventual Hell Gate Bridge.


Walk Bridge Failure Causes Railroad Delays

A mechanical failure left the Walk Bridge in Norwalk stuck open for hours and caused major delays for trains moving through the area, according to Metro-North and Amtrak.

Norwalk police say the drawbridge was stuck in an open position around 3 p.m. causing significant delays on Metro-North’s New Haven Line and slowing Amtrak trains between New York and New Haven. As of 5 p.m. the railroads had restored limited service, but significant delays of up to 90 minutes continued.

Around 10:30 p.m. Metro-North reported that train service had resumed to three of the four tracks over the Walk Bridge and delays were only expected to be around 20 minutes. Sunday service is expected to run on schedule.

This is not the first time a failure of the Walk Bridge caused issues for riders. In 2014 Gov. Dannel Malloy called a “crisis summit” after multiple service disruptions left commuters delayed for hours. After that, experts began formulating solutions to repair and eventually replace the bridge.

Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966.

A pair of EF-4s heads west around Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966. Next stop. . .LIRR’s Bay Ridge Yard.

Model by Rick Abramson

Summer, 1966.  The Long Island Rail Road was busy reballasting a lot of track.  All the ballast originated at the New Haven Traprock quarry in Branford, handed off to the New Haven from the Branford Steam Railroad at Pine Orchard.  Shipped in 125-car lots, the trains consisted of New Haven’s 70-ton quad-hoppers filled to the max (meaning halfway).  These were “DO NOT STOP” trains, with the dispatcher closely monitoring their movement all the way.  I suspect that at least one passenger job may have been inconvenienced by these trains.

At S.S. 4 we were given a heads-up when they were crossing over at Pelham Bay, and the dispatcher called both S.S. 4 and S.S. 3 to make sure the train had a clear, unobstructed shot for Hell Gate Bridge.  And we had to call back, confirming that the signals were cleared off.  Then she came rolling through at 45 m.p.h.  You could feel how heavy the train was, but the two EF-4s made it appear easy.

Once she cleared off the model board, a sigh of relief followed, preceded, of course, by an OS to the West End dispatcher.

I don’t think you could do such a thing nowadays.  But, that’s progress, I think.

Question on New Haven wreck cranes?

The big New Haven Railroad cranes were built by Industrial Brownhoist. They were actually locomotive cranes (ie self-propelled). They were all black; cabs, and the “car” the cabs were mounted on. The 3 cranes were D-100: located at  New Haven, D-101: located at Providence, D-102: located at Oak Point.

Any movement of the 230-ton crane under its own power would generally be for the immediate area only.  When towed to and from wherever, its maximum speed was 25 m.p.h.

Keep in mind that these big cranes had numerous restrictions on where they could not operate.

Extracted from Time Table No. 6, effective 2.01 A.M., Sunday, October 26, 1958:

Maximum Speed for Particular Equipment
All derricks – 25 M.P.H.
Additional restrictions for Derricks D100, D101 and D102 are as follows:

  • When in transit, smokestack and auxiliary cab light must be removed.
  • One car to be placed between derrick and engine handling train.
  • Oak Point – Must not be operated beyond shore line at float bridges.
  • South Mt. Vernon – Must not be operated through third rail shoe rake-off blocks 940 feet west of S.S. 20.  If required to go beyond this point, rake-off blocks must be removed temporarily.
  • New Rochelle Yard – Must not operate on yard lead track across Cedar Street Bridge No. 5.05, 1970 feet east of New Rochelle station.
  • Port Chester – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. at Bridge 13.75, King Street, first underpass east of passenger station.
  • Stamford – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. at Bridge 20.86, Greenwich Avenue, first underpass entering Stamford from the west.
  • Bridgeport – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Burr Road, S.S. 55, and East Bridgeport, S.S. 63.  Must not operate on Old Botsford Main north of Congress St., Bridge No. 0.26 first underpass north of passenger station.
  • Branchville and Ridgefield – Must not be operated.
  • Must not be operated between (Dike St.) Olneyville and Pascoag; East Providence and Bristol; River Point and Arkwright (Woonsocket – Winter St. yard and Slatersville and Hamlet Branch); Groton Old Main; Norwich C.V. connection.  Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Norwood Central and Valley Falls, and over Shaws Cove drawbridge.
  • Must not be operated between:
  •     Boston and Back Bay
  •     Boston Terminal and South Bay Jct.
  •     South Bay Jct. and Braintree
  •     Neponset and Milton
  •     Braintree and West Quincy
  •     Matfield and West Bridgewater
  •     Westdale and East Bridgewater
  •     Forest Hills and West Roxbury
  •     Readville and Dedham
  •     Weir Jct. and Dean Street
  •     New Bedford and Watuppa
  •     Franklin Jct. and Milford
  •     Medway and Woodside
  •     Lancaster Branch
  •     Framingham – Prison Branch
  • Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Canton Jct. and Canton, Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole, Braintree Highlands and Randolph.

Cranes D-100 to D 102 weighed more than an I-5 4-6-4 Hudson —  In working order with coal and water they weighed 379,000 lbs. vs 365,300 lbs for an I-5 in working order without a tender.  The weight on each I-5 driver was 64,300 lbs.only slightly more than the 63,400 lbs on each axle of the front crane truck.  Is there any wonder there were restrictions.

Readers might be interested to know that the New Haven used the terms Derrick and Crane interchangeably.  For example, in the Mechanical Department diagrams D-100 to D-102 are called 230 Ton Capacity Steam Locomotive Cranes while the 150 Ton Capacity D-3 to D-6 diesel powered units are called Wrecking Derricks even though all have similar booms and operated similarly (D-3 was not self-propelled).  There was also the H series (H-47 to H-57) which stoood for Hoist (built by American Hoist and Derrick Co.) which were labeled Loco Cranes.  Webster’s dictionary isn’t much help in identifying the difference between Derrick and Crane but Webster says Derrick originated with the name of an 18th century English hangman — derrick is an obsolete term for hangman or gallows.

And a Crane is a wading bird with long legs.”
 – So does that mean a “Loco Crane” is one that has mental health issues?

Naugatuck Clean-up Pilot A Great Success

THOMASTON, CT –  Volunteers from the Railroad Museum Of New England (RMNE), the Naugatuck River Revival Group (NRRG), O&G Industries, and the Boy Scouts completely exceeded all expectations on Saturday by removing enough tires to fill two 30 yard dumpsters from an area less than 3 miles long between the Naugatuck River and CT Route 8 in Thomaston and Watertown. More than 20 people devoted their Saturday to clean up the environment and pull tires both big and small.
Volunteers rode the train to Jericho Bridge. There they pulled the tires from the riverbank and brush and rolled them next to the Naugatuck Railroad mainline. From there a tie crane lifted them into a dump car. The train dumped the tires at Thomaston Station where a bucket loader lifted them into dumpsters. For the trial run, two teams started at Jericho Bridge, one on each side of the mainline and worked their way south and one team started at Frost Bridge Road and worked their way north. After lunch, volunteers returned to work south of Frost Bridge Road and pulled out more tires.

See full article

“DOODLE BUG” Service on the New Haven Railroad

Was just wondering with all the talk about the rdcs from rapido. What was the history of doodle bug service on the New haven rr?

NewHavenDoodleBug03 The map is from Pavlucik’s “The New Haven Railroad – A Fond Look Back”.  Date of map not given specifically but it seems to be 1930.  All runs were listed, totalling  2,529 miles each day.



Passenger-less train derails in New Canaan

NEW CANAAN — While there were no reports of injuries Thursday morning in what Metro-North Railroad called a “minor derailment,” the incident inconvenienced riders and drew criticism.

The train that derailed in New Canaan was slowly being moved into the station’s yard when a wheel left the tracks, rail officials said. The mishap caused up to 60-minute delays for commuters, because the disabled train was blocking other rail traffic.

No passengers were on board and crew members were not hurt, Metro-North said.

But state Sen. Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said the incident was still worrisome.

“It should not be going off the tracks,” said Boucher, a ranking member on the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

“The New Canaan line is popular, and has all the things the other branches should have,” she said, referring to improvements in New Canaan that have been long sought for other branches, such as the Danbury line, which still uses diesel trains.

“This is of great concern,” Boucher said. “What is disconcerting is, what if there had been passengers on board?”

Metro-North Spokesman Aaron Donovan said the train was “being moved into the New Canaan yard briefly, with the intent that it would relay back out and be put into service for passengers.”

The cause of the derailment remained under investigation by Metro-North, Donovan said. A spokesperson for the National Transportation Board said that agency would not conduct an additional investigation into the mishap.

Metro-North and other rail carriers have a recent history of serious accidents, including the May 2013 derailment in Bridgeport that injured more than 70 passengers. The cause was of that incident was determined to be a section of broken track.

In December 2013, a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx after the engineer fell asleep, killing four people and injuring 63. Recently, two railroad workers were killed when an Amtrak train crashed into a backhoe that was on the tracks near Philadelphia.

James Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, said he did not hear any complaints about Thursday’s derailment and the resulting delays.

“It is spring break week for the local schools so ridership is down,” Cameron noted.

“I don’t know any details on the derailment,” Cameron said. “One photo I saw made it look like it was on a grade crossing, maybe Grove Street or Richmond Hill. That’s technically in the New Canaan “yard,” but it’s not really a yard. I know they did a lot of grade crossing work at Grove Street recently.”

The incident caused the cancellation of two trains from the New Canaan station to Grand Central Terminal. Substitute bus service was provided on the line for the 10:02 a.m. train departing Stamford making all stops to New Canaan.

Metro-North line to Waterbury to get promised upgrades

WATERBURY — Projects to bring the Waterbury Branch of Metro-North up to current standards for passenger railroads are moving forward, and the branch is on track to meet the Federal Railroad Administration’s deadline.

“Let me be clear, the Waterbury Branch is not getting shut down and is under no threat of getting shut down,” said Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.