Posts Tagged ‘old railroad bridges’

NS Recommends Repairing Bluefield Bridge

October 27, 2020

Norfolk Southern has told city officials in Bluefield, West Virginia, that repairing a closed bridge is the most feasible solution to restoring access to the city’s downtown area.

Bluefield had threatened to sue NS over its closure of the bridge in June 2019, saying the railroad failed to live up to its obligation to keep the structure in a state of good repair.

In the wake of that threat, NS officials revived talks with the city about the bridge, which links downtown with the North Side and East End neighborhoods.

The Class 1 railroad recently told the city in a letter that NS it would be willing to discuss other alternatives to repairing the Grant Street Bridge.

However, NS said its financial obligations will be capped at the limit of its maintenance obligations under a 1940 agreement between the railroad and city.

The letter from NS Assistant Vice President Government Relations Darrell Wilson said the railroad is willing to help pay to maintain the bridge. He did not say in his letter how much it would cost to repair the bridge, which was built in 1941.

But a preliminary estimate made in September 2019 put the cost at between $1.5 million and $2 million. Replacement of the bridge was estimated to cost at least $6 million .

NS closed the bridge after a state inspection declared it to be unsafe.

The 80-year-old agreement between NS and the city states the bridge superstructure support is the responsibility of the railroad while the city is responsible for road service work on top.

Wilson said the NS engineering department considered two other alternatives, including demolishing the existing structure and constructing a new bridge; or extending existing public streets to link Wayne Street and Roanoke or Hardy Streets via a newly constructed public road.”

 “After considerable analysis, it is clear that alternatives beyond the scope of rehabilitating the existing structure would require substantially longer development times,” Wilson wrote.

 “We also note that Norfolk Southern has no contractual obligations under the 1940 maintenance agreement to build a new bridge or to construct additional access roads for the City.”

His letter said NS officials understand the frustration of city residents over the bridge closure and that the railroad seeks to get the bridge reopened as soon as possible.

Bluefield Mayor Ron Martin said working with NS will be the key to getting the bridge issue resolved as opposed to going to court.

“While we cannot guarantee a successful end to these negotiations, we believe that they have approached us in good faith,” he said.

These Used to be Quite Common

July 25, 2020

When I was a child one of the highlights of car travel was watching for bridges carrying railroad tracks over the highways.

Back in those days it was common for railroads to affix their herald to the side of the bridge or, in some instances, paint their name on the concrete arches of the bridge.

The Pennsylvania Railroad seemed to do a lot of painting of its name on concrete or so it seemed at the time.

A few railroads would spell out their names in other ways on the bridges.

But the most common method of identification was putting the herald on the bridge, typically fastened to the plate girders.

Maybe its my imagination, but it seemed like back the early 1960s nearly every bridge carrying rails over a highway had identification on it.

By the end of the decade, though, the practice seemed to be vanishing.

There probably were a number of factors to explain that including how railroads had lost interest in promoting themselves as they increasingly got out of the passenger business.

Cost was probably another reason. But as much as anything, there probably was a change in thinking by railroads and state highway departments in regards to identifying railroads on their bridges.

Some of these identification signs still exist although some of the heralds have been painted over.

It is rare to see a herald or name of a modern day Class 1 railroad on a bridge, although the CSX herald was placed over that of the Baltimore & Ohio on a bridge west of Lodi, Ohio.

Earlier this year I made it a point to photograph two bridges in Dayton that still had B&O capitol dome heralds on them.

I also made sure to get the Norfolk & Western herald shown above on a bridge in Noblesville, Indiana.

This herald is pretty much hidden by a bridge carrying a hike and bike trail over the White River in downtown Noblesville.

In fact I walked past it a few times before I saw it. Photographing it was a challenge because it was obscured by metal work on the trail bridge. That’s why the photo is angled as it is.

This also is the closest I’ve been to one of these heralds, which used to be quite common in N&W territory.

It has been decades since the N&W owned the rails carrying this bridge over a Noblesville street.

The track now ends a short distance away to the left and is used only by a tourist train, the Nickel Plate Express.

This used to be NKP branch line that ran from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana.

Because it was a branch no one thought it was worth the time or money to remove it.

That was a good thing from my perspective because it gave me a chance to relive those days when we’ve be traveling and I’d see a railroad bridge and I would wonder where those tracks led.

Old Painesville Trestle Coming Down

October 11, 2018

The rails have been removed and a crane is removing the deck of the old trestle over the Grand River in Painesville. The view is looking westward from Riverside Drive.

Norfolk Southern is wasting no time in removing the 1905 trestle over the Grand River in Painesville following the opening on Sept. 30 of a new bridge.

Work on the new bridge began in March 2017 and the first train to use the structure was eastbound intermodal train 206.

The bridge is part of the NS mainline between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The old and the new as seen from river level.

A view looking eastward toward both bridges from Bank Street.

Looking west from Bank Street on the west side of the new and old bridges. The old alignment is on the right.

This view looking southward shows a portion of the deck of the old bridge has been removed.

Historic Toledo RR Bridge Available for Free

January 5, 2018

If you’ve driven on the Ohio Turnpike past Toledo you’ve probably seen an abandoned railroad bridge over the Maumee River alongside the highway.

It once carried the tracks of the Toledo Terminal Railroad, which made a loop around Toledo. It was in its day the only complete railroad beltway in the country to form a complete loop.

Now The Wood County Port Authority and the Ohio Department of Transportation have a deal in place that will allow the bridge to be removed.

The agreement, which also includes the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, requires the bridge to be documented and, if possible, reused.

The bridge was built in 1902 and in its current condition cannot be used for railroad, highway or even trail uses. CSX conveyed it to the port authority in 2011.

The port authority is willing to give the bridge to a community or park system if they will place it somewhere else.

ODOT has agreed to preserve the spans before and after they’re removed. The swing spans are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because they are an example of an uncommon type of bridge.

A commemorative plaque and display about the bridge and railroad will be placed near its present site and parts of the bridge could be used along the Chessie Circle Trail.

Before the bridge is removed, it will be documented using Historic American Engineering Record standards. So far, no one has come forward to claim the bridge.

Still Flying the Flag 56 Years Later

December 19, 2016


There is something comforting about seeing a relic of the long ago past even if it is just a rusty hulk of its former self. I have had a lifelong interest in history so finding such relics is a way to see and almost touch something that I never was able to experience in its prime.

Such is the case with old railroad bridges that still wear the markings of a past owner. As this is posted in December 2016, it has been 56 years since the Erie Railroad operated its last train.

In October 1960 it merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western to form the Erie Lackawanna. Even that road has been gone now for 40 years.

Much of the former Erie in Northeast Ohio has been abandoned. Some rails are still in place, but have been out of service for many years.

Motorists traveling on North Forge Street in Akron, Ohio, can see a daily reminder of the Erie.

This bridge carried the Chicago route of the Erie over North Forge near Akron Junction. All of the mainline railroads serving Akron crossed over Forge in a two-block area with the Erie being the westernmost of them.

Today the former Erie bridge is silent. As best I can tell from looking at an overhead view on Bing Maps, there may be one set of tracks on the bridge, but otherwise the rails have been removed.

Neglected Reminder of the Erie Railroad

May 17, 2016

Looking down the tracks where rails used to be on an old Erie Railroad bridge near Kent.

Looking down the tracks where rails used to be on an old Erie Railroad bridge near Kent.

The view of the old Erie Railroad bridge over Breakneck Creek as seen from the Portage Hike and Bike trail.

The view of the old Erie Railroad bridge over Breakneck Creek as seen from the Portage Hike and Bike trail.

When a railroad line is abandoned, the railroad and/or salvage company generally removes anything that might be of value.

Most notably, it pulls up the rails, ties and ballast. In many cases, though, bridges are left in place because they cannot be easily removed, particularly if a bridge is quite large.

Along the Portage Hike and Bike trail is one such example. The bridge shown above probably carried a set of lead tracks into the yard in Kent over Breakneck Creek.

It is located adjacent to what used to be the westbound main and judging by it looks of it it has not been used in several decades.

The Erie Lackawanna greatly diminished operations in the Kent yard well before the EL became part of Conrail in 1976. In fact, the Kent yard was rationalized quite a bit in the middle 1960s as the financially strapped EL cut back on yard operations in a bid to save money.

It’s doubtful that EL executives at company headquarters in Cleveland concerned themselves with the fate of a bridge over a creek. The decision to leave this bridge in place was made much lower down the chain of command.

Boards have been placed at both ends of the bridge to keep trespassers off, but the barriers are not substantial enough to deter someone determined to walk out onto the bridge.

I would imagine that has been done before and maybe some people still do it. Myself, I would not want to find out how sturdy this bridge still is. The metal supports are probably strong, but the wood boards show signs of advanced deterioration.

It was enough for me to observe this bridge from a safe distance while wondering what tales this structure could tell about about times past.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders