It was built in 1875 to replace a burned 1852 wooden bridge and then rehabilitated in 1903. The wooden bridge was "the longest and highest wooden bridge in the United States." Plans are to replace the trestle with a steel arch bridge. NS offered to donate it to the State Park since a lot of people trespass on it now. But the state agency turned it down because they said they could not afford to preserve it. So NS plans to spend $1m to tear it down. So preservation costs more than $1m?
|Existing from NYDOT|
|Proposed from NYDOT|
Construction activity for its replacement has already started appearing in satellite images.
|Test Train, photo taken on July 31, 1875, from Bridge Hunter|
|HAER NY,61-PORT,1--2 from Photos from HAER NY,61-PORT,1-|
|Modjeski and Masters photo from ConstructionEquipmentGuide from posting|
7/2017 - The two halves of the new Portageville Bridge on the NS Southern Tier Line were joined this week. The new bridge will replace the 1875 trestle and is expected to open next year.
Read more: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portage_Viaduct
Sean Angelo NS wanted to replace that bridge for a while, as it was getting tired. Plus, there was a 10mph on that bridge, which was a dispatching nightmare. The new bridge should be able to allow speeds of 30mph, helping to keep the trains moving through the southern tier.
AltoonaWorks Sean Angelo The few trains there are, anyway.
Sean Angelo 8 trains a day I've been told.
[It also removes the weight restriction of 273,000 pounds. Today's standard is 286,000. [Progressive]]
Construction of the new Portageville Bridge on Norfolk Southern’s Southern Tier rail line in New York reached a milestone over the weekend. Bridge builders installed the last piece of structural steel to connect the arch span. Iron workers attached a pine tree on the steel frame, a tradition that signifies there were no fatalities during this phase of construction.Ken Gentzke Jr The new bridge would allow NS to pull 286,000 lbs max cars over this bridge. Currently they are only able to pull cars around 240,000 lbs max cars. Can't remember the exact amount. These heavier cars went for longer routes.
The $70-million railroad bridge, which spans the Genesee River Gorge in Letchworth State Park near Castile, N.Y., is a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, the New York State Department of Transportation, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
Norfolk Southern hopes to begin running trains on the bridge by the end of this year. The bridge will enable the railroad to better serve customers in Buffalo and the state’s Southern Tier region, supporting businesses, job creation, and economic growth.
Joe Stoltz Actually I think the new bridge will handle 315,000 pounds at a speed of 35 mph vs a substantially lower weight rating and 10 mph speed limit it now has.
|Lee Farley commented on Keith's posting|
There's the 150 on the left and 130 on the right
NS Southern Tier Line were joined. The new bridge should be in service early in 2018 I believe.
Walt Lankenau I like how they use cables to counterbalance the partial arches before they're connected.
The project has had its share of engineering challenges. For example, NS needed to blast and remove more than 16,200 cubic yards of weathered and fractured rock from the gorge walls. On the gorge's west side, the contractor needed to use large cranes to remove the rock because there was no vehicular access to the gorge floor.
The Class I faced environmental difficulties, too. The bridge is located in a state park that’s home to two federally endangered animal species: Northern long-eared bats and timber rattlesnakes. The park also is home to bald eagles, a federally protected species.
To reduce construction noise that could disturb a pair of nesting bald eagles, NS adopted a plan to drill bridge foundation piles in lieu of the "more typical method of pounding," Swanson said. The Class I also limited the use of explosives to excavate arch foundations.
Although NS develops an annual budget for bridge work, the railroad typically funds major bridge replacements through a separate line-item budget. NS has provided nearly $60 million for the $72 million Portageville Bridge replacement, while state and local funds will cover the remainder. The project marks the largest public-private development that NS has ever developed for an individual bridge project, Swanson said.
|Norfolk Southern (source)|
At 2:20 p.m. Monday, Norfolk Southern general merchandise train 36T became the first to cross the new Portageville Bridge.
[I sure hope the NS page is permanent because it has a map.]
|Norfolk Southern posted (source)|
At 1:40 a.m. on December 11, 2017, the last train crossed the old Erie-built 1875 Portageville Bridge over the Genesee River Gorge in Portageville, New York. At 6:00 a.m., the track would be taken out of service for 8 hours to be cut over to the newly-built bridge. For more information about Norfolk Southern, visit www.nscorp.com.
[Note that they used the new bridge to hold the lights needed to take a night photo of the last train. It really captured the truss+girder design of the trestle.]
|AB Connections, p. 12 (source)|
[American Bridges has several more photos and a detailed explanation of how this tieback system held the arch halves until they were connected. Erie started with an 800' timber trestle in 1852. But when that burned in May 1875, they replaced it with an iron bridge in three months. In 1903 the spans were replaced with steel girders and pin-connected trusses. But the iron towers served into the 21st Century.]
|Bob Eisthen posted|
Soo Line 6023 at Letchworth Park, New York. June 27, 2004
Reuben Brouse photo
|Norfolk Southern Corp posted|
Portageville Bridge - Norfolk Southern began running trains over the new bridge in December 2017. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2Bbjbl4#infrastructure
David Andrew Wieting Looks like the stone piers remain in the river. The removal of the old bridge really does open up the views of the canyon. New bridge is worthy of inclusion with the famous two track version in NM on the BNSF over the Rio Grande.
A video of the final train going over the old trestle (source)
JohnKuckoDigital answers several questions along with a photo of a train using the new arch.
RiverRailPhoto also caught the train.
JohnKuckoDigital posted images and explanations of previous bridges
Modjeski and Masters, Inc. photo album (Their 360 views make me appreciate WTTW's 360 views because WTTW is really 360 degrees. These are no more than 180 degrees.)
A video of blowing a span out of the old bridge. Skip to 0:10 or -0:38. (source)
A John Kucko Digital photo of an iron worker cutting off a truss member of the old bridge. He must be using a drone and he caught the waterfall in the background. The mist being thrown up by the fall reminds me that the Northeast has received some heavy rains lately.
John Kucko Digital posted five photos of the inspection truck in operation with the comment:
Trestle Tales: One of the most dangerous jobs around was that of bridge inspection of the 1875 High Bridge at Letchworth SP. This soon to be gone trestle had to be inspected very regularly, meaning folks would be hanging 230-240 feet above the raging waters of the Genesee River and the Upper Falls there. This was always an amazing sight to see as inspectors examined the bridge from stem to stern. I remember one telling me "you just hope the truck arm is working well that day." The new arch has a much safer means of inspection--a secure catwalk that allows for inspection and regular maintenance. "Old Shaky" (what the trestle was referred to by train engineers and conductors) is in its last weeks--built in 3 months, lasting 142 and a half years.