Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CP/Milw Bridge over Rock River at Byron, IL

(1882 Bridge Hunter; 1897 Bridge Hunter; 1905+? Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Satellite, you can see that the piers for probably the 1897 bridge are still standing.)

Dave Durham posted
CM&St.P, Byron, Illinois, 1899
Laird Barber It was a double track line until the late 1970's when it was single tracked by the MILW Road, and is now owned by the Canadian Pacific.

Public Domain via 1897 Bridge Hunter
These twin spans are a puzzle. Since the southern one is pin connected, it is older than the northern one. But the concrete pier on the south is more modern than the cut stone part on the north. However, the northern one is upstream so it gets the brunt of the ice flows. Maybe scouring is what caused the southern part of the piers to require concrete repairs.
Steve Conro via 1905+? Bridge Hunter

Monday, April 29, 2019

Pere Marquette Ferry Dock in Port Huron, MI

(Satellite, 20 photos)

Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted
This photo is older than 1931 because that is when the swing bridge was replaced with an Abt trunnion bridge.

While trying to figure out if photo's view is looking north or south, I noticed on Google Maps that there still exists a carferry apron. Taking a closer look at the photo, you can see two aprons in the left background.
Upper-left corner of the above photo at photo resolution

Global Earth
I figured that this yard would have been abandoned by the time of the oldest satellite image, 1999, on Google Earth. But to my surprise, the yard was not only still used, there was a ferry docked at the remaining apron. Looking at Historic Aerials, the 1951 image shows both aprons are intact.  The 1964 aerial shows the northern one is no longer used and the apron has been removed. By 1973, they have filled in the shoreline to today's configuration.

These aprons and their tracks is another opportunity to check the accuracy of the USGS topo maps. Below is an excerpt from a map labeled as 1940 at 24,000 scale. It shows the two indents, but not accurately. The northern indent has the profile of 1973, not 1951. Furthermore, there is a track heading to the southern apron, but not to the northern apron.
Peggy Lindquist, 2016, cropped
seung won lee, 2017

Marcie T, 2017
Peter Michael Photography Studio, 2017

Street View
I'm preserving some current images because a street view indicates they are doing construction in the vicinity. If they do develop the land, I hope they preserve this history.
Street View

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bayonne Bridge over Kill Van Kull at Staten Island, NYC, NY

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; HAER3D Satellite, 213+ photos)

Photo from HAER NJ,9-BAYO,1-11 from nj1025

BAYONNE BRIDGE, FROM OVER STATEN ISLAND LOOKING NORTH - Bayonne Bridge, Spanning Kill Van Kull between Bayonne & Staten Island, Bayonne, Hudson County, NJ

Nathan Holth on his Historic Bridges page complained about the lack of documentation for the new bridge. I share his frustration. Normally for a new bridge, you can find proposed alternatives, concept illustrations, environmental impact statements, and/or materials for public presentations. The only concept illustration I could find is this little one on their About page. Traffic had to use two lanes instead of four lanes during the six years of construction, but they were able to get rid of the lower roadway under the arch by 2017 to make room for New Panamax ships.
The deck on this bridge has been raised 64' to allow super-panmax ships to access container terminals on the other side. They are also having to dredge a deeper channel, 51'-57' depending on the stage of the tide. The 2000' wide Ambrose Channel starts twelve miles out in the ocean. It was built in 1931 with a clearance of 151'. In the mid 20th Century, the Port Authority predicted that the superstructure of ships in the future would top 190'. Pieces of the roadway over the water were removed by lowering them onto barges. The new channel was tested with a new container ship, CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, that is 1200'x158'x52.5' and can hold 14,414 containers. The previous maximum capacity was 9,400 containers. That ship stopped at other east coast ports before it docked at NYC. That would reduce its draft to below 51'. In fact, it was just 40.85'. This ship went under the Bayonne Bridge on Sept. 7, 2017. The wheelhouse on this ship was at the same height as the old roadway. "According to Port Authority statistics from a few years ago, seven million vehicles cross the Bayonne every year. About a hundred and three million vehicles use the George Washington." The bridge won't be finished until 2019. [NewYorker, pay count of 4. Some of the article talks about how dangerous the Kill Van Kull strait is to navigate because of tides coming in from both sides and a sharp turn in the shipping channel. The article also discusses Ammann, who was the designer of this and several other major bridges, and the harbor and sea pilots.]
Port of  NY Authority via Historic Bridges, p29
The Kill Van Kull is one of the world's busiest shipping channels, connecting the ports of Newark and Upper New York bays with other ports around the world.
[The ship is headed east out to sea, and we see Manhattan Island in the left background.]

Port of  NY Authority via Historic Bridges, p13

Port of  NY Authority via Historic Bridges, p7
[I included this image because it helps put in perspective the immense scale of the bridge.]

Second Progress Report via Historic Bridges, p13
[Look at the list of the derrick boat.]

Second Progress Report via Historic Bridges, p16, rotated
[This shows the temporary piers or falsework and the temporary support above the second pier so that they can cantilever the remainder of the arch and avoid putting a pier in the navigation channel.]
Second Progress Report via Historic Bridges, p20
[I didn't realize that the navigation channel was so far off-center until I saw this image.]
Dedication via Historic Bridges, p7
[Given the stone encasement of the abutments, this is obviously a concept illustration. Like the towers of his George Washington Bridge, Ammann obviously intended for the steel work to be covered by stonework. But the depression happened before the bridges were completed, so the stone work, which was purely decorative, was skipped. Some people have argued that the raw strength of the towers looks better without a stone facade.]

A street view catches the original steel girder approach spans and the new precast segmented partial approach spans. Before they can finish the new piers and approach spans, they need to remove the old roadway. After the second part of the new piers are built, they can remove the yellow pipes.
Street View

3D Satellite
[I saved an image because this catches the phase where the new deck is full width, but the approaches can't be finished because the old deck still exists.]
Since it is supposed to be finished this year (2019), I really don't need a concept illustration because the web cam shows what it is supposed to look like. Evidently, it is still not done because their web page indicates the pedestrian walkway is closed, and it is still displaying Nov 4, 2013, truck restrictions due to the construction.
Web Cam, accessed Apr 28, 2019

(new window)  Among other things, this video animates how a travelling gantry installs the precast segments for the new approach spans.

(new window)

This container terminal doesn't care about the height of the Bayonne Bridge. But these are the terminals I found that do care: New York Container Terminal, APM Terminals (can handle ships in both Newark Bay and Elizabeth Channel), and Port Elizabeth Terminal Corporation.

While looking for container terminals, I found these two RoRos (Roll-On, Roll-Off) in dock. Since I've never seen one with their ramp out, I wanted to capture this image.
Toyota Logistics Services

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mississippi Lock and Dam #4 at Wings over Alma, WI

(John A. Weeks IIISatellite)

The dam consists of a concrete structure 1,357 feet long with six roller gates and 22 Tainter gates. The movable
dam has six roller gates (20 feet high by 60 feet long), 18 non-submersible Tainter gates (15 feet high by 35 feet
long), and four submersible Tainter gates (15 feet high by 35 feet long). Completing the dam system is an earthen
embankment approximately 5,500 feet long, located between the movable dam and high ground on the Minnesota
side of the river. The dam foundation consists of piles in sand and gravel.

The lock was put in operation in May 1935. At the time it was built, the dam's combination of roller and Tainter
gates was believed to have been the first of its type to be constructed. Cold weather created several problems
during construction of the complex. Approximately 120 timber pilings split and had to be pulled and replaced;
engineers speculated that sap freezing in the green pilings may have caused the splitting. Ten major injuries, 296
minor injuries, and three deaths were reported during the construction of the dam.

The pool created by Lock and Dam 4 is the longest in river miles (44.1 miles) with the largest water area of all the
Mississippi River pools in the St. Paul District. It encompasses Lake Pepin, which was formed in geologic time by
sediment deposited in the Mississippi River at the mouth of Wisconsin’s Chippewa River. The lake is 22 miles long
and up to 2.5 miles wide. It is the only natural lake in the Mississippi River’s main channel.

Faith Camp shared
Sam Schropp The picture above isn't a current [Spring, 2019] picture. The dams are wide open from Lock 2 to Mel Price at Alton.
I copied a satellite image to show the width of the historic channel cut by the melting ice-age glacier runoff.
I assume the four Tainter gates next to the roller gates are the submersible gates because I presume they are the first ones they would open and they would want to keep the normal flow in the middle of the river to reduce erosion. Note that it appears two of them are open in this image.

John Weeks III

Friday, April 26, 2019

Tank Car Safety, UP derailed an ethanol train in south Fort Worth

(3D Satellite, the stable that burned is across the tracks from the abandoned incinerator)

I've been writing about incidents that "stress" tank cars. But I think this derailment is significant enough to warrant its own post.

A UP southbound ethanol train derailed at 12:40am, 4/24/2019. Five of the 20 cars burned for hours. A stable next to the tracks caught fire and three out of the 10 horses were killed. [NBC's video] The ties and stable were still smoldering when it got light enough for a helicopter to make a video for news channels.
Mike Barkett shared a link to the group: IF YOU WORK(ED) ON THE RAILROAD (railfans welcome).
Kameron Joseph It was a 98 car train. Crew didn’t receive a flash flood [warning] and hit a washout.
FORT WORTH, Texas — At least 20 homes were evacuated after a train derailment near Yuma Drive and Riverside in south Fort Worth Wednesday morning.
Small fires are still smoldering at a nearby family farm whose horse stable also caught fire, killing three horses. [KHOU11]
They were worried about "chemicals" in the air. That is why the homes were evacuated.

Photo 12 from a 15 photo gallery in KHOU11
"Firefighters said they are working to contain the fire as Union Pacific will investigate the cause of the fire." [KHOU11] I think it is pretty obvious what caused the fire --- they smashed some tank cars full of ethanol. It would be interesting to know what generation of safety design the tank cars were and if they performed as expected.

(new window)  At 2:10, they zoom in on a little jet of flame. But according to the report below, this video is seven hours after the main fire.

The video in this report shows that the fire right after the wreck was big. UP was lucky that it derailed in a more industrial part of Fort Worth.
There was a lot of rain because this video said the cars in the lower level of the parking garage of Love Field (their airport) were in 3 feet of water. (I skipped the "talking faces" part.)

Screenshot, evauated area

ABC7 Screenshot
I captured the above because of the strong current past the wheelsets. Then when I stopped the video a few seconds later I got the following. Those are two rails down in the drainage ditch! Then I noticed all of the ties on the side of the embankment. Rails and ties are supposed to be on top of an embankment, not next to it. It appears UP was also lucky that the locomotives and crew got across this area before the embankment caved in.

Screenshot @ -30:58
Soon after you see that all of the smoke is coming from burning ties and an excavator is using its bucket to pour water from the drainage ditch onto the smoldering ties.

Screenshot @ -25:35
[Look at the hole on the right side of the top tank. Did it explode or was it ripped open on impact?]

Screenshot @ -24:20
[We go from an embankment to a cut and the tracks are in a river of water. When is BNSF and UP going to quit testing the soil strength of a saturated embankment?]
Screenshot @ -18:33
[A view that has the "big hole", the ties on the side, the rails in the ditch, and the jet of flame.]
The rest of the video is rather redundant unless you want to see a horse in the field at -11:10 and the smoldering stable. This was the stable.

Screenshot @ -32:40
[It looks like Fox caught ethanol pouring out of a puncture. There might be some drunk fish in the neighborhood. This video was taken before the above video because there are more trucks and wheelsets in the water. Actually, at -30:13, it looks like the above video. The news channels contract with the same helicopter for their footage? I moved the slider several times and the rest of the video looks the same.]
KENS5 video looks a little different, but it is very similar. It might have been a second cameraman in the same helicopter flight.

This is what the Chicago Tribune had about it on 4/25/2019 in their News Summary section. But KHOU11 reports this command vehicle caught fire when it came in contact with overhead wires. It had nothing to do with the train derailment fire.
A Fort Worth Fire Department emergency vehicle burns at the scene where a train of tanker cars carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire in a residential area of the city early Wednesday. Authorities said no one was injured in the accident. (Fort Worth Fire Department )
[Bought in 2008, it cost $1.25 million, the department said. [NBC5]]
(new window)

HazmatNation has even less information than the mainstream media had.

I was going to skip this news article because the advertisements kept fighting me, but it has the information that the train had a mix of the old DOT-111 and new DOT-117 tank cars. It also has updated numbers: "Of the 24 tanker cars, nine leaked at least some of their ethanol cargo, including the four cars that witnesses saw burn up in the fire, officials said." "Jim Southworth, NTSB investigator in charge, said Thursday he was not aware of any ethanol making its way into any nearby creeks or other waterways, including Echo Lake, a small body of water adjacent to the derailment site." I guess nobody showed him the video above where I speculated about drunk fish in Sycamore Creek. The drone video shows that they brought in at least two mobile cranes and a photo shows a couple of sidebooms in action.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Flood of 2019: GIS for road status and other government information

While I was researching the Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River, I accessed (April 21, 2019) a MoDOT page. No matter which page I went to, there was a banner saying that I-29 was closed at mile marker 57 at St. Joseph due to flooding, and it recommended that you use I-35 to I-80. So I followed a link to a status map. I finally found the Mile Marker Search button at the top of the page to give me this display:
MoDOT Map, accessed 12:12pm CDT on Apr 21, 2019
(I accessed this map again on 4/21/19 to see what GIS platform it uses. A crawl at the bottom indicating that I-29 is still flooded at mile marker 57 is still running. The crawl covers up the "Powered By" answer.)
This is the relevant part of the key on the left side of the page.

It is weird that the most significant flooding location doesn't have a flood icon on it.

GIS stands for Graphic Information Systems. It occurred to me that GIS is an industry that has grown along with the World Wide Web industry. When I was reading the MoDOT web source code to find the waterways photo below, I learned how much HTML has changed since I used to write it in the 1990s.
The status map key also shows winter weather status. This map looks so useful that I wondered if Illinois DOT had something similar. But first of all, I wanted to determine how easy it is to find this map from the MoDOT home page. It is very easy. In fact, it is the first big icon on the home page. While on the home page, I poked the Multimodel icon. The Waterways icon says: "The waterways unit assists authorized cities and counties in forming port authorities to foster use of Missouri's navigable rivers to make low-cost waterborne transportation benefits available to business." A "Learn More" poke got me to the Wateways page. The banner background was so neat, I figured out how to access a clear image of it. Their summary bragged about the Missouri river, but this is obviously the Mississippi.
MoDOT Banner Image
To finish the comparison, I went to the IDOT home page. A Getting Around Illinois "Learn More" link takes you to a page full of icons. After bookmarking that page, I chose "Road Closures Due to Flooding" and got this map. Unfortunately, I could not find a key. I assume the scale for the dots is yellow, orange, red, and purple.
IDOT accessed on Apr 21, 2019
IDOT accessed on Apr 25, 2019
This is what you get if you click the bar-in-a-circle icon at the Quad Cities:
Clicking the purple icon in the Quad Cities area got me to this page. Note that there was another big storm that dumped more snow and rain on the upper plains a few days ago.
I'm glad to see that Illinois DOT has joined the 21st century and now displays geographic information like road construction activity on maps. It used to be that construction areas were just listed in a text file. And not too long ago real-time information like flood closures wouldn't even be on their web site. I went back and tried all of the icons.
  • Current Conditions Road Construction is not accurate! It does not show the mess at the intersection of I-88 and I-294. (Unless that construction didn't take too long. Maybe I need to try using I-88 again.)
  • Current Conditions Traveler Information has incident reports, construction, delayed traffic, and camera locations. The camera at the intersection of I-88 and I-294 shows the traffic flowing. Again, maybe that construction is done. Unfortunately, IDOT doesn't have any cameras covering the eastbound choke point on I-290.
  • Road Construction was broke. The tab displayed "ArcGIS Web Application" and the body displayed a animated icon, for as long as I was willing to wait. I assume an Illinois server is not providing the information that ArcGIS needs to build a display. 
  • Travel Midwest Information indicates in the small print at the bottom that several states cooperated with the UIC Artificial Intelligence Lab. The map data comes from NAVTEQ.
  • Metro-East St. Louis has Esri in the fine print.
  • Getting Around Peoria doesn't have a map interface.
  • Scenic Byways flashes ArcGIS in the tab that is quickly replaced by Map Viwer. Unlike the above icons, this page did not open a new tab. So I had to be careful to use the "Back" arrow instead of the window close X.
  • IDOT Bicycling   I chose DuPage county, but nothing happened. So this interface defeated me.
  • Rest Areas is another ArcGIS that loads quickly. On 4/25/19, the map shows four of them are closed.
  • Road Closures Due to Flooding is ArcGIS.
  • Road Closures is ArcGIS.
  • Current Road Construction Table is just a bunch of text.
  • Illinois Tollway Construction is Ersi with Garmin, NGA, and USGS. I recognize Garmin as the manufacture of my GPS device for a car. USGS is the federal organization that does the Topo maps. I don't know what NGA is. There were a lot of lane closure icons!
  • E85 Biodiesel Stations   This also shows electric charging stations. It is a U.S. Department of Energy site. The fine print is "MapTiler" and "Open StreetMap contributors." It shows what I discovered after I bought my minivan that has FlexFuel --- I'm lucky to live just a few blocks from a station that has E85.

One GIS web interface I have used extensively during the five years that I have been writing this blog is a map interface to aerial photos of Illinois made in the late 1930s: http://maps.isgs.illinois.edu/ilhap/. To zoom in to the part of the state I was interested in, I first used the icons on the left. Then I discovered that you can sweep out a red rectangle around your area of interest using the mouse. When you release the mouse button, it will zoom into that area. Unfortunately, I can't use a screensaver to get a snapshot of a red rectangle for demo purposes because both tools need the mouse. But here is a result of selecting the near northside of Chicago to find the photo for the gasometer that was south of Goose Island.
Then, when you click a red dot, you get a popup offering links to different file formats for the map image. Fortunately, they added "jpg" a couple of years ago because "tif" is big (and breaks some viewers!) and "sid" needs a special app that you have to find and download.

It used to be that when you clicked "jpg", a compressed image would open in another tab. Something changed and now it doesn't fit in a window. Since I hate panning an image with scrollbars, I save the image and use a photo viewer. I would say I use my favorite viewer, but that is still the old Microsoft photo viewer. which they disabled in Windows 10. At least they fixed Photos so that when you double click a file it quickly opens that file rather than try to find and organize every image file you have on your disk drive. And I finally learned that if I hold the "ctrl" key down while I use the mouse's scroll wheel, it zooms the image like the old viewer did. Once I have panned and zoomed to find what I want, I use the old Paint (now called Edit) program to crop the part of interest. (I've read that Microsoft is going to make it harder to access that oldie, but goodie, also.) Sometimes, what I want is not in the "dot" I selected, so I'll access the appropriate neighbor image. When using these historical aerials, you have to remember expressways and other landmarks we use today did not exist. Here is the image I wanted for my gasometer research.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Something I recently read in a Trains magazine is an interactive interface to USGS Topo Maps. I haven't used that. What I am learning to use is their interactive interface to historical topo maps. (Update: this map also uses USGS, Garmin and Esri. I also now notice that the domain name is arcgis.) Here is the same area in a 1929 map with a scale of 12,000. This is much easier to use than the interface I was using that is the Download Map link in the new interface.
Historical Topos
Another topic I have been researching is C&WI 81st Street Tower. Unlike satellite images, the resolution of the historical aerials is not good enough to count tracks. So I did the following experiment with a 1929 map with a scale of 12,000. The area of interest is in the upper-right corner of the Blue Island map. Otherwise, I would have included more track to the north and east. Gresham Junction is in the lower-left corner of this excerpt.
USGS 1929 Blue Island Topo Excerpt
I zoomed in to experiment with the resolution. You can zoom in until you see imperfections in the paper! So I backed off to this level of resolution. I'm going to have to study some areas I'm familiar with to better learn how the contour lines depict track elevation and road underpasses.
USGS 1929 Blue Island Topo Excerpt
As an experiment concerning the accuracy of drawing tracks, I looked at the 21st Street Crossing. The depiction of lots of tracks is not accurate.
USGS 1929 Englewood Topo Excerpt
Unfortunately, when you use the Download option, the smallest scale is 24,000. It really makes you appreciate the importance of the 12,000 scale in the interactive maps. For example, scroll down in CB&Q's 1860s Industrial Park where I added topo maps of each scale.

Sometimes procrastination pays off. The day after I had intended to publish, the Chicago Tribune had an article on page 3 about "Tech takes up fight against flooding." The photos in the printed version were black&white, but I notice the digital version has color.
Chicago Tribune, Apr 23, 2019, Page 3, "Tech takes up fight against flooding"
Most of the article is about GIS technology. Other technology used to analyze flooding is drones and high-resolution sonar.

The article also provides some information about the Flood of 2019. "U.S. scientists said in their spring weather outlook that 13 million people are at risk of major inundation, with more than 200 river gauges last week showing some level of flooding in the Mississippi River basin....'There are over 200 million people that are under some elevated threat risk,' said Ed Clark, director of the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala, a flood forecasting hub. Much of the technology, such as the National Water Model, didn't exist until recently. Fueled by supercomputers in Virginia and Florida, it came online about three years ago and expanded streamflow data by 700-fold, assembling data from 5 million miles of rivers and streams nationwide, including many smaller ones in remote areas."

This article also taught me about Esri. Specifically, "Engineers monitoring levees along the Mississippi River have been collecting and checking data using a geographic information system produced by Esri, said Nick Bidlack, levee safety program manager for the Memphis district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company produces mapping tools such as an interactive site showing the nation's largest rivers and their average monthly flow."

Today's [4/25/2019] Chicago Tribune has "Tool helps you locate neighborhood construction projects" by Mary Wisniewski. Mary is the Tribune reporter that specializes in city transportation issues. ChiStreetWorks, "which became public on Tuesday, allows residents to see the location of current and proposed road repair and utility projects in every neighborhood." The GIS techonology for this site is: "Powered by DoIT, CDOT, Collins Engineers, SADA Systems, Google Maps" Mary reports: "The web-based system was initially developed internally for planning purposes so that CDOT could do a better job of coordinating construction, said CDOT spokesman Michael Claffey. The information had previously been available only to CDOT staff, aldermanic offices and utility companies, the city said." The home page specifies: "The application was created to help facilitate project coordination between city agencies and utilities, and to provide city residents with valuable information about various construction activities and street impacts throughout the City. These activities include construction projects, special events, and roadway moratoriums."

I can relate to "special events." On a field trip on 8/12/2018, one of my goals was to go down Cermak Avenue to check if the track that was used by BNSF/CIRY/CB&Q had finally been pulled up. To my surprise, I could not go east of Allport Street.
So I turned right on Allport and parked. The city had closed Cermak for a street fair of some sort. I took some photos from here, and then I went home because I got the information I wanted --- the tracks had been removed.
By the way, the old Fisk Generating Station is still standing.
So I used the Pilsen Neighborhood to test ChiStreetWork. It is not very useful. Most of those icons were activities that should not impact traffic flow. For example, some of the construction icons that I checked were adding ADA aprons to allies.

I've even dabbled in GIS using Google's API. After studying a recent meander of the Wabash river at Grayville, IN, I searched for and plotted other meanders on the Wabash River. And after describing the railroads in the Western Avenue Corridor,     I plotted the junctions on a map. Unfortunately, I see both are now generating error messages and clicking on the "dots" doesn't give more information anymore. It is bad enough that Facebook keeps changing (breaking) things, now it appears I need to research what changed in Google's API.

I did another attempt to find a site of Indiana 1938ish aerial photos comparable to ILHAP. But every site that I found, that still worked, wants to sell the images. The best index tool I found was IU. Free aerial images makes me appreciate that Illinois has done something good.