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Here's a question for those living in the northern New Jersey and New York City area.  So many track changes have occurred in the area during the last 40 years, I'm curious to know whether the former Central Railroad of New Jersey lift bridge at Bayhead, NJ, is still in use?  If not, is it still in place, and is there continuous trackage, connected to the rail network, on both sides of it?  If the bridge is no longer used, was it replaced, or was the route changed?

This bridge was the site of a notorious passenger train accident on October 31, 1958, in which a New York & Long Branch train, operated with Jersey Central equipment, passed a stop signal and fell into the bay while the bridge was in its raised position.  Two GP7's and three cars went into the water and the remainder of the train derailed and remained upright on the bridge.  4 Railroad employees and 44 passengers were killed.  Another 46 passengers and 2 employees were injured.

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As additional information the lift portion of the bridge and the approaches were demolished in 1987-1988.  The demolition of the remainder of the bridge began in 2012. 

In 1966 another accident occurred where a ship collided with the bridge taking two of the four tracks out of service.  CNJ won the judgement for repairs, however reduced traffic didn't require 4 tracks into Liberty Terminal so the damaged portions were never repaired and the two tracks were permanently removed from service.

After the Aldene plan of 1967 where CNJ and the PRR consolidated NY&LB operations so that all CNJ trains would operate on the PRR trackage at the north end of the NY&LB and terminate in Penn Station, Newark.  This eliminated the need for Liberty Terminal and it's the ferry service.  A small shuttle that used former CNJ RDCs did operated over this bridge from Bayonne, to Elizabeth until 1978 and was locally referred to at the "Scoot". 

It is disappointing that the bridge was not saved as with all the congestion in that part of the world, ferries from Liberty Terminal to the south end of Manhattan and closer to Wall Street would be helpful now.  The ferries docked on the NYC side of the Hudson fairly close to the current PATH station.  

As a side note, the two GP7Ps that went into Newark Bay went back to EMD and returned as GP9s.  The only 1500 series GP7Ps upgraded.  Finally, during the 1958 accident a forward thinking bridge operator saw the oncoming train and proceed to lower the lift bridge enough so the train wouldn't collide with the concrete counter weights.  While the 1958 accident was a tragedy, that operator prevented it from being even worse than it could have been.

If I had the space, I would love to model that portion of the CNJ, but even compressed, that is a lot of square footage! 

@GG1 4877 posted:

Finally, during the 1958 accident a forward thinking bridge operator saw the oncoming train and proceed to lower the lift bridge enough so the train wouldn't collide with the concrete counter weights.  While the 1958 accident was a tragedy, that operator prevented it from being even worse than it could have been.

I wonder if that really was the right thing to do.  If the train collided with the concrete weight it probably would not have ended up in the water and while there most likely have been injuries in the coaches the passengers at least would not have drowned (probably 44 passengers would not have died from the impact injuries).

Stuart

@Stuart posted:

I wonder if that really was the right thing to do.  If the train collided with the concrete weight it probably would not have ended up in the water and while there most likely have been injuries in the coaches the passengers at least would not have drowned (probably 44 passengers would not have died from the impact injuries).

Stuart

That is true.  However, movable bridges, rugged as they may look, need frequent maintenance under normal use.  I know of a Texas & Pacific wreck in which a freight train running 50-60 MPH in very dense fog missed two block signals and collided with the counterweight of an open drawbridge in East Texas or Louisiana.  In that accident, the imprint of the GP35 locomotive nose and cab was left on the counterweight and obviously it was damaged.  Whether it required replacement or not, I don't know.  I do know someone who might have knowledge of how long that bridge was out of service and what repairs were required.  I may have something to add to this later.

@EMD posted:

Hi Tom,

The closest bridge to Bay Head (now) is the Manasquan River bridge

That bridge was recently (8 years?) replaced. It was a rickety old wooden bridge on pilings with a 10 mph speed restriction. During construction of the new concrete bridge I was talking with one of the track gang workers lamenting the loss of the old "quaint" bridge. He informed me "that quaint bridge was hated by engineers due to it's unstable nature". He went on to state it was one speed violation away from failing. Whether that was true I don't know - but I did watch it move a bit more than I thought comfortable every time I was railfanning the area.

My parents lived two miles from this bridge and I spent a good deal of time at Bayhead  / Pt. Pleasant and Manasquan sections of this track. Great place for kayaking.

I"m still amazed that there were no auto accidents at the grade crossing next to the bridge as beach traffic from Pt. Pleasant always back up at the light and people would get boxed in to the crossing due to their stupidity - I mean due to the traffic

However being 1/4 mile from the station (Pt. Pleasant) and 1 mile from the branch terminus - the trains were limited to 30 mph - at least until they crossed the Manasquan River heading north.

Tom, Bayonne was made famous by Saturday Night Live "Port of Call Bayonne NJ" skit

Bay Head is firmly seated in the middle of what is known as "The Jersey Shore"

Why am I craving a hard roll with butter now?

Paul - what exit? - Licata

I was a month shy of 4 years old when this happened.  We lived about a dozen houses from the 4 track main line.  It is the first time i can remember looking at a newspaper.  I used to use my paper route money to ride the scoot because they took away all the rest of the trains.  After college moved to an apt that had this line in my backyard but by then there was little action on that portion of the old cnj.  It really deserved the title of the big little railroad.

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