KOOLjock1 posted:

With the exception of swing bridges, most of these bridges operate on extraordinarily low horsepower, and they are very carefully balanced.  ...

sort of OT, but i remember a line from the PBS show on the Panama Canal claiming that the multi-ton lock gates were so well engineered, a motor the size of a VW engine was all that was needed to operate them.

i only caught it a few times but there was a Bascule Bridge on the Jersey Shore Line that was great fun to watch operate.  the counterweight was huge.

Krieglok posted:

The bridge was built when there was heavy commercial traffic on the river. It wasn't designed to opened every twenty minutes for pleasure craft. Operating a movable span involves a lot of work and man power every time an opening occurs. It isn't just pressing a button. 

If the bridge were to fail in a raised position, the railroad may be liable to its customers for delayed shipments. It is probably a situation where any fines or lawsuits are outweighed by operating costs or incidental penalties the carrier may incur. They are in the business to haul freight, not placate pleasure boaters.

The bridge was there before the boat rental companies and excursion boats arrived on the scene. The boat company owners made a poor choice of locating their businesses with out doing their homework beforehand. 

I am surprised to see how many of the responders on this thread are against the railroad. It is a debatable issue, but the negative view of the railroad puzzles me. If your new Lionel locomotive was in a UPS container on a train delayed for a bridge opening and arrived a day late, you probably would not be happy.

Finally, being a career railroad employee, as well as a model railroader, I can see the question Is important to a few people ut not the railroad. But in reality, it is a non issue that seems to have risen from the newsroom floor on a slow day...


The answer to your question is that rivers and other navigable waterways are not owned by the railroad and as a result watercraft have a right to navigate that waterway. Those rules were not created for commercial boat traffic only, they weren't created for commerce, they were created for anyone using the waterway, boating on them. It doesn't matter that back in the days of the NYC this route was used mostly by commercial shipping (and it would be interesting to see if back when the NYC ran this, if they kept the bridge up or down), the fact is that the Cuyahoga river (thankfully) is now clean enough along with lake Erie to allow it to be used by all kinds of craft, commercial and non commercial. 

And if this line is that busy that they can't afford to have the bridge stay open unless needed, then the railroad should be seriously thinking about how to either reconfigure the route to be able to cross the river without affecting river traffic or to replace the bridge.  Among other things, the real risk with that bridge isn't that opening and closing a bridge is difficult, the real risk is that bridge is ancient, probably built in the earlier part of the 20th century and as such is probably prone to failure, when they continue to use infrastructure that was built for another time (as the poster noted, when the river was mostly commercial traffic) that is on the railroad for taking the cheap way out. Looking at the pictures of that bridge, I see another problem, given the kind of flooding we are seeing routinely these days, that bridge is a disaster waiting to happen for another reasons, it is so low to the water that it is prone to being flooded out, and also in winter could end up getting destroyed by ice floes if the weather goes into a deep freeze.

The worse part seems to be that there was a workable flow to the way it once operated and the NS didn't care. Allowing the bridge tender to decide when the bridge needed to be lowered, rather than having to wait for a dispatcher a thousand miles away to decide, made sense.  The bridge tender likely will have access to some sort of information on trains coming to the bridge, so they will know if they need to lower it or not, and it doesn't take 3 hours to lower a lift bridge like that. Likely, too, a lot of the trains running over that bridge probably happen at night, when recreational traffic and the like is at a minimum, likely peak times for recreational traffic are weekends in summer, so it isn't like they can't work out a compromise where the bridge is up by default during peak times for river traffic and down/on demand others. What it sounds to me like is the NS is assuming that mere pleasure boaters and other users don't matter, and they do, the NS doesn't own the river, and to be blunt their business interests in trying to operate the bridge as cheaply as possible to them or only with their interests in mind legally and otherwise is just plain arrogance, the guys who run marinas and tour boats and dinner cruises and the like are business people, too, they rely on the river for their livelihood, and the people who boat on the river and lake likewise have a right to enjoy it, too. 

The anger being thrown at the railroad is that in the name of squeezing every cent out of their business, they are acting like 19th century robber barons, not responsible corporate neighbors. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Dominic Mazoch posted:

But there is another side to this.

The law was written when there was any recreational boaters......

And do boaters, of ANY size, have to pay any fees or taxes a year to help offset the federal costs to keep the watetway up.

Lastly, maybe it is time to define what "interstate commerce" actually is.  I do not think a rec. sailboat counts.

But in this case NS does have an option.  Maybe moving to the NKP does make some sense.

Are you kidding? Both the Coast Guard (who regulate waterways,maintain markers and buoys) and the Army Corps of Engineers (who are responsible for maintaining them with things like dredging or in some cases changing the course of a river), are paid for out of federal tax dollars we all pay, so every one of those boaters is helping pay for the upkeep of the river, to be honest probably paying a lot more than the Norfolk Southern does. This doesn't fall under interstate commerce, this falls under aspects of maritime law (the same law, that for example, says that on a beach the section below the high tide line is public property, even on a private beach), access to navigable waterways is a right. People also pay things like marine gas taxes, licensing fees as do the businesses that support them (marinas, chandleries, riverfront/lakefront restaurants, B and B's, Hotels, etc).  As far as the law being written when there weren't any recreational boaters, the laws in question were written before there were railroads *shrug*..and for example, a dinner cruise boat, a tour boat, a rented boat or jet ski, is commercial shipping, and based on your argument of time, they have more right to the river than the railroad does. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Someone mentioned bridges around the North Jersey/NYC area, how they are down. Being someone who has boated around that area (in a sailboat, no less, with a tall mast), the answer is that it all depends on the area what they do. Amtrak has a swing bridge where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet and they leave it open most of the time IME. On the Harlem river, the drawbridges there rarely need to be opened, so they are opened only by prior request, because unlike the bridge over the cuyahoga that is low to the water, most of the bridges around NYC are high enough that pleasure craft (with the exception of sailboats) can easily get under them, the drawbridges still there only would be opened for the rare commercial boat tall enough to need it open. With bridges on rivers like the Passaic and Hackensack rivers, they generally stay down, but again, they are high enough to pass most pleasure and commercial craft, there just isn't all that much commercial traffic big enough to warrant an opening (there is an Amtrak bridge over the Hackensack river that when it does need to be opened, causes grief because often it doesn't close right, another ancient beast left over from the PRR). So it isn't the same thing because for most of the waterways where pleasure craft and commercial craft operate, the bridges are high enough not to need to be opened. 

The real problem to my eye is that bridge was built for a very different time and when needs were different and has not been replaced by either making it obsolete (route change) or replacing it with something that can accomodate most river traffic without having to be opened.  In the last 50 years or so the Cuyahoga river has gone from being something of a sick joke (the river that caught fire) into being something enjoyed by a lot of people, but the railroad keeps using a bridge that was designed to be opened occasionally back in the good old days (it would be interesting to know when this was operated by the NYC back in the day, how many trains a day crossed the bridge),basically doing what far too many businesses do, wringing every cent out of archaic infrastructure then complaining about that infrastructure, was like the steel companies using 100 year old blast furnace technology and complaining they couldn't compete......

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

There is no question that Maritme law takes precedence here.  NS is exceeding its authority and must open the bridge to any and all boat traffic requiring passage.  The only time the bridge should be closed is for oncoming rail traffic and then boats have to be given time to clear the structure.  The bridge may be left in a closed position, but it must open on demand.  I can’t believe commercial establishments down river haven’t taken legal action or some lawyer who owns a boat hasn’t filed a class action suit on behalf of all boat owners on the river against the NS RR.

I seem to recall that the bridge at Mystic CT is usually aligned to receive trains and opens to water craft at certain scheduled times all day.  The Mystic river is not particularly busy, but I remember waiting with other craft for the bridge to open for us. I've ridden on Amtrak there as well and can't remember stopping for maritime traffic.  

Any NE Corridor Engineers out there who can enlighten us?


Swipesy posted:

NS  announced Friday, 7/19/19 That they have changed their policy, effective immediately, that "the bridge" over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River will now remain in the up position instead of down and only be lowered when trains need to cross.

I suspect the aforementioned lawsuit probably changed their operating procedures.

Swipesy posted:

NS  announced Friday, 7/19/19 That they have changed their policy, effective immediately, that "the bridge" over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River will now remain in the up position instead of down and only be lowered when trains need to cross.

Nice job NS for taking in the feedback and changing your operating strategy at the bridge to address all of the stakeholders concerns. 

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