Posts Tagged ‘boats’

Boaters Upset Over NS Handling of Drawbridge

November 20, 2022

Boats wait for an NS train to clear the drawbridge on the Chicago Line near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland in Sept. 24, 2017. The view is looking northward toward Lake Erie.

A Cleveland TV station recently reported that boaters and Great Lakes freighters operating on Lake Erie are disenchanted with Norfolk Southern’s handling of opening and closing its drawbridge over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

The I-Team of WJW-TV said it was told by the U.S. Coast Guard that the bridge being closed when boats want to pass has been a chronic problem for years.

Blair Stanifer of the Coast Guard told Channel 8 that the agency has seen delays of two hours and even three hours when the bridge was closed.

He said if a train isn’t coming close to going over the bridge it must go up for boats and ships.

 “Once you make a request, provided it’s safe to do so, the bridge is supposed to open promptly and fully.,” he said.

The Coast Guard has the legal authority to fine the railroad up to $30,000 per complaint.

However, the WJW report said that it can take months and even years for the Coast Guard to hear and decide on complaints with some complaints filed in 2019 having been dismissed.

“They open when they feel like they want to . . . not by the law which is a requirement when a signal is sounded by a vessel coming through,” said Eric Peace, vice president of of the Lake Carriers Association, a shipping industry trade group.

“You bring a 700-foot ship, and you put them inside this break wall, they have to be able to hold position if they can’t get through that bridge. You actually have to tread water. It becomes a safety problem.”

Peace said the only way to get NS to be more responsive to boaters is to continue to raise the fines.

In a statement NS said it works with the Coast Guard and others to ensure that rail and marine traffic keeps moving. The statement said the railroad seeks to balance the needs of both.

Boats and Trains in Port Huron

June 25, 2018

Here are two photos of the new Lake State Railway operation in Port Huron, Michigan, mentioned about a week ago in the blog. The first photo is pushing cars into Dunn Paper while the Algoma Central boat Radcliffe R. Latimer heads out into Lake Huron. The second is a grab shot of the sharp looking MP-15 under the Blue Water Bridge to Canada. Both photos were taken on June 20, 2018.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Boats and an NS Heritage Unit

May 8, 2018

I thought on Sunday that I would intercept Norfolk Southern train 287 with the Central of Georgia Heritage unit at the Cuyahoga River Bridge.

While I was waiting, the Sam Laud, an ore boat, was heading upriver to the Mittal Steel mill.

As the Sam Laud was clearing a tugboat with a barge left just as the 287 came through.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

1 If by Rail, 2 If by Boat

November 10, 2017

The Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was quiet. That was not good news given that I was standing in Wendy Park alongside fellow Akron Railroad Club member Marty Surdyk hoping to get a photograph of a train crossing the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

But we did catch an NS track car crossing the bridge at the same time that a boat with a small profile was cruising beneath the bridge. Most pleasure craft are now small enough to fit through here when the bridge is down.

One of those boats can be seen on the other side waiting for the bridge to be lifted.

Making a Mad Dash For the Bridge

November 8, 2017

I’m told that federal regulations give commercial traffic priority on the Cuyahoga River at the Drawbridge carrying the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern over the waterway in Cleveland.

But during warm weather months, most boats on the river are pleasure craft and the bridge tender does not have to lift the bridge to accommodate them until rail traffic is out of the way.

Sept. 24 saw temperatures soar into lower 90s, breaking a record for the date of 88 degrees set in 2007.

Needless to say, the onset of summer weather in the early days of what is officially autumn has boaters out in droves.

But NS had trains to run and all the boaters could do was idle in place or run around in circles as four trains went by.  But once rail traffic cleared and the bridge began going up, the boaters didn’t wait for it to reach its peak position.

As soon as clearances allowed, the boaters began making a mad dash toward the lake or from the lake as seen here.

Boats, Trains and a Jet

October 12, 2017

A Norfolk Southern stack train crosses the Cuyahoga River on Lift Bridge No. 1

Last January my fellow Akron Railroad Club officer Marty Surdyk published a feature article in the ARRC Bulletin describing a New Year’s Day outing that he and his brother Robert had made in Cleveland on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

They spent most of their time photographing near the lift bridge over the Cuyahoga River and in the Battery Park neighborhood.

I’ve been to Battery Park, but I’ve never photographed trains on the lift bridge, which spans the Cuyahoga River just south of its mouth with Lake Erie.

Marty and I talked about replicating that January outing but it didn’t come about until late September.

Who would have thought that the temperature that day would soar into the 90s? But it did as part of a string of six consecutive days during which Cleveland set records for high temperatures.

My outing with Marty would not exactly replicate what he and Robert had done eight months earlier.

For starters, they had gone out on a holiday when the bars were closed. On a Sunday in September there would be more people out and about in the Flats and all of the restaurants and bars would be open.

Our outing began with driving around the Flats looking for a parking spot.

The lot in which Robert and Marty had parked was largely vacant, but it’s a pay lot and although no one was manning the entrance gate, that could change at any time.

Complicating matters was the fact that the parking meters on the streets had covers saying “no parking, police order.”

I noticed, though, that temporary signs on utility poles referenced no parking on Friday and Saturday. This was Sunday and maybe no one had come yet to remove the covers.

Some cars were parked in those spots and after driving around for awhile we decided to chance it.

We found a space on Front Avenue near the Margaritaville Cleveland Restaurant and bar and walked the short distance to the east bank of the Cuyahoga.

There is a nice wide sidewalk along the river that leads right up to the lift bridge.

During our driving around we had not missed any trains, but had missed a lake freighter headed out to Lake Erie.

We didn’t have a long wait before bagging a pair of intermodal trains, the 21G and an eastbound stack train whose symbol we missed.

We also found out that since January that either the owner of the lot in which Marty and Robert had hung out or the railroad have erected a tall fence along the tracks.

That prevented us from making images of trains coming through the bridge and of RTA Waterfront Line trains crossing over the NS tracks as Marty and Robert had done earlier.

Not wanting to chance getting a ticket, we didn’t stay long on the east bank of the Cuyahoga.

We drove to the west side where we found a parking spot without a meter on Main Avenue beneath the Shoreway bridge over the Flats.

Back in January, Marty and Robert had parked in the lot for Shooters restaurant and bar and hung out on its deck along the river.

But it had been closed that day and no one was around. That was not the case on this September Sunday.

We had noticed while standing on the east bank a viewing platform next to an inlet of the Cuyahoga adjacent to Shooters.

It belonged to an establishment that was closed so we spent some time there.

The advantage it had was a straight-on view of the NS bridge. Another advantage was that the lighting was ideal for that photo angle.

The 17N (manifest freight) was approaching the bridge as we arrived, but we then had a long wait to get the next train. The BF10 was in the area, but the Cleveland Terminal Dispatcher had told the crew to be patient because the bridge was open.

It would remain open for quite a while and we speculated that the bridge tender was holding it open because the Goodtime III and Nautica Queen were scheduled to depart their respective docks at 1 p.m.

The Goodtime would go up the Cuyahoga while the Queen was headed out to Lake Erie. They passed each other just north of the bridge.

It is our understanding that commercial boat traffic has the right of way at the bridge, but the railroad is not obligated to open it for pleasure craft if it has a train coming.

Having not seen the written regulations, I’m not sure how it is supposed to work.

Based on what we observed on this day, though, the bridge remained up most of the time. But when rail traffic was imminent, it came down.

As it turned out, it was the approach of the 24M, a hot intermodal train with UPS trailers, that sent the bridge down.

BF10 was the first train to cross followed by the 24M. But much to the displeasure of the armada of pleasure boats waiting on both sides of the bridge, NS had more traffic to run.

Also approaching the bridge were the 412 (coke train) and the 18N (auto racks).

The latter cleared the bridge about 2:15 p.m., which made the wait for the boats nearly 45 minutes. Some boaters floated in place while others drove around in circles.

After the passage of the 18N, we went to get lunch at a Subway outlet near Battery Park.

We would eat our sandwiches at Battery Park and catch four trains, the 375 (empty coal hoppers), the 20E (intermodal), a light power move that earlier had taken the BF10 to Rockport Yard and the 11K (manifest freight).

The latter was of particular interest because it had the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit in the motive power consist, albeit trailing.

It also was, of course, the last train of the four to pass our position.

After that we meandered over to Wendy Park where we had more luck catching boats than trains. One lake freighter had already passed the bridge by the time we arrived, but I was able to get going away photos of it navigating up the Cuyahoga amid a flotilla of pleasure craft.

We also caught another freighter coming off the lake. As it made its way toward the NS bridge, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 passed overhead landing at nearby Burke Lakefront Airport with a load of Minneosta Twins coming to town from Detroit for a series with the Indians.

After all of that activity, we got one last train of the day crossing the bridge, intermodal train 21Q.

We also heard the dispatcher tell a track maintainer that the computer system in the dispatching officer was going to have an outage at 6 p.m. That might have had something to do with the paucity of train traffic.

Daylight was fading so we headed to nearby Edgewater Park for some sunset photographs before calling it day and heading for home.

The westbound 21G was the first train that we photographed on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River.

Westbound train 17N crosses the bridge.

BF10 crosses the bridge after a wait. There aren’t many boats on either side of the bridge — yet.

Box cars and boats.

The EOT of the 24M was welcome sight, but there were still two more trains to go.

Still waiting. A westbound coke train crosses the bridge.

18N was the last of four trains to cross the bridge in mid afternoon after about a 45-minute wait for the boats.

Between the condos of Battery Park is an NS train and Lake Erie.

Spanning 73rd Street in Battery Park

A Delta Air Lines 757 lands at Burke Lakefront Airport with the Minnesota Twins as lake freighter Saint Mary’s Cement III pulls into the Cuyahoga River from Lake Erie. The massive boat is being pulled backward by a tug boat.

Containers of NS train 21Q rumble through downtown Cleveland.

Sunset at Edgewater Park was a good way to end a most productive day in Cleveland.

What We Don’t Want to Hear

September 28, 2017

Depending on what they are carrying, if these tank cars derail, they might make a sound that mirrors the name of the boat waiting for them to clear the Norfolk Southern bridge over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

The tankers were part of the consist of BF10, which makes a daily trip from Motor Yard in Macedonia to Rockport Yard on  Cleveland’s southwest side.

The boater, though, still had a long wait after the BF10 cleared. Trains 24M, 17N and 18N all had to clear before the bridge tender raised the bridge to allow the armada of waiting boats to head for Lake Erie or up the Cuyahoga.

Boats and NS Trains in Vermilion

September 8, 2017

If you like to watch boats, Vermilion is a good place to go. If you like to watch trains, Vermilion is a good place to be.

But it is not an either-or choice if you plan a visit to the city on the shore of Lake Erie that is also noted as being the home of a famous French restaurant.

If you hang out at the South Street boat launch on the Vermilion River you can see trains and boats at the same time.

The Akron Railroad Club recently had its annual day in Vermilion and we spent all morning and part of the afternoon at the boat launch.

Here is a look at some of the action involving boats and trains.