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Little more than three miles separates Brooklyn from New Jersey across Upper New York Bay. By freight train, however, the trip between the two can cover 280 miles and take more than 24 hours.

That is because in recent years virtually all rail traffic between Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, at one end, and points south, at the other, has traveled over the ''Selkirk Hurdle,'' a 280-mile loop that extends up the east shore of the Hudson River to a bridge at Selkirk, N.Y., near Albany, then down the west side of the river.

That story from 30 years ago - and the same problem exists today!

NYC Selkirk Hurdle-

The Poughkeepsie railroad bridge has been out of service since 1974 and cross-harbor rail ferry service is rather limited.

A cross-harbor tunnel for rail freight has been proposed, at tremendous expense. The existing commuter railroads have marginal capacity for freight services.

NYC cross-harbor

Studies performed for the Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel say about 30,000 trucks per day cross the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge going to or from parts of Long Island, including Queens and Brooklyn, or about 10 million trucks per year.


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  • NYC Selkirk Hurdle-
  • NYC cross-harbor
Last edited by Ace
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Dominic Mazoch posted:

I have heard stories that the PC was involved in making the Poughkeepsie situation happen.

Yes, interesting story there. The bridge was going to be rehabilitated after the fire damage but plans fell through ...

In August 1974, the Penn Central applied for $1.75 million to repair and improve the bridge from the federal government through the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973.[16] By 1975, efforts had shifted to acquiring a combination of state and railroad funding. In November 1975, a formal agreement between the New York State Department of Transportation and the trustees of the Penn Central was approved, allowing the $359,000 insurance payout for the bridge to be spent on repairs, with the state paying the rest ... on April 1, 1976, ownership of the bridge changed with the inception of Conrail. [18] Having been forced to include the route over the bridge (the Maybrook Line) in its new system at the behest of Connecticut Senator Abraham RibicoffConrail announced that it would not promise to repair and use the bridge despite a Connecticut foundation's offer to pay half the repair cost if the bridge were used again. The railroad further said that other work required to make the route usable would raise the reactivation cost to $45.8 million.

Seven years passed ...

... and to sum up, the bridge was falling apart and Conrail basically gave it away to avoid further liability. Previously, rail traffic across the bridge had been in decline because of changing rail traffic patterns.

Last edited by Ace

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