Tuesday, November 29, 2016

1917 Hell Gate Bridge

(Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesDave Frieder PhotosSatellite)

(Update: Fred Hadley posted a history, photo and drone video.)
Albert R Brecken posted
Section of the Hell Gate Bridge that spanned the Easr River as viewed without the massive "portal" towers at each end of the span.

Arch bridges push out as well as down on their abutments. I always assumed the portal towers provided mass to help resist the outwards forces. But this indicates that they are just decorative. The bridge was completed in 1916 when railroads could afford to spend money on decoration. I then assumed that this must be one of the places in New York where the bedrock is at the surface so they could easily anchor the bridge to bedrock. But then I learned that caissons had to be sunk 90 feet to reach bedrock. [nycroads] I wonder how much of the expense for building to decorative portals was used to build foundations for all of that masonry.


 Historic Bridges
In fact, the bearing is mounted to the base at almost a 45-degree angle indicating the arch does push out about as much as the weight of the arch pushes down.

It was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world when built, and it "was named after the narrow channel of strong waters and dangerous rocks in the East River running underneath the structure (known as Hell Gate)." [parachute] "The Hell Gate Bridge would be the last NYC bridge to collapse if humans disappeared, taking at least a millennium to do so.... Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1912 and 1917 for the purpose of connecting the Pennsylvania and New Haven railways, its 20,000 tons of steel spans 1,107 feet from the shore of Astoria to the Bronx's Ward Island." [gothamist]

Albert R Brecken posted
Hell Gate Bridge of the New York Connecting RR which "linked" the New Haven RR with the Pennsylvania RR. This was the most direct route for freight and passenger traffic between New England and points South and West of Philadelphia. The degree of precision in fitting in place the members that "Closed the arch" was astonishing.

I've seen both 1916 and 1917 for completion dates. The following explains that the bridge was done in 1916, but evidently more track had to be laid elsewhere before through trains could run over it.
The arch bridge, the two smaller bridges and the viaduct were completed in September 1916. On March 9, 1917, the first Pennsylvania Railroad train - the Federal Express service between Washington and Boston - went over the Hell Gate Bridge, completing the first uninterrupted rail service between the two cities. [nycroads]
And now I see 1919.
Niel Fenn Davis posted two photos with the comment: "The building of Hell Gate bridge, finished in 1919 it cost more than the NYNH&H Railroad could pay , some people believe it’s cost is what drove the NYNH&H Railroad into its first bankruptcy, regardless it was an impressive achievement."
Joe Dockrill shared


Library of Congress: HAER NY,31-NEYO,167--18
I did not realize until I saw some of the HAER photos on the Bridge Hunter site that the approach viaducts are non-trivial structures in their own right.
Library of Congress: HAER NY,31-NEYO,167--16
Little Hell Gate Bridge now spans land instead of water. Historic Bridges notes:
It uses a design that is rare anywhere, but almost unheard of in North American, the inverted bowstring truss. It is a deck truss where the bottom chord takes on an arch-like shape.
The reason this unusual design was chosen was as unusual as the design itself: the engineer wanted to give a greater clearance for boats near the piers. This is odd because boats usually would want to pass under the bridge as far away from the piers as possible.
I was able to manipulate a 3D Satellite image to capture much of the length of the structure. Historic Bridges estimates it to be 3.6 miles long based on a diagram of the East River Bridge Division of the New York Connecting Railroad.

3D Satellite
THE HELL GATE BRIDGE TODAY: The Hell Gate Bridge, which today has the 17th longest main steel arch span in the world, continues to play a central role in rail transportation in the Northeast. Only three of the four tracks are used on the bridge. The two south tracks carry Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains, while the north inner track carries CSX and Norfolk Southern (the owners of the former Conrail routes) freight trains. The north outer track is no longer in operation. [nycroads]
Joseph Fiorini posted
Hell Gate Bridge from roof of my work. This is on Randall's/Ward's Island in NYC. The bridge runs across to connect The Bronx and Queens. This is only half the bridge.
Jurgen Sachs: Taken from Wards Island between Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx. Name comes from the strait between Long Island Sound and the East River it crosses known as Hells Gate the current is about 5 or 6 knots during the tide change. It has three rails two electric for the Amtrack North East Corridor and one rail for CSX.

Mark Hayden commented on Joseph's post
Recent view from flight approach into LGA.

Jurgen Sachs commented on Joseph's post
Taken from Wards Island between Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx. Name comes from the strait between Long Island Sound and the East River it crosses known as Hells Gate the current is about 5 or 6 knots during the tide change. It has three rails two electric for the Amtrack North East Corridor and one rail for CSX. Picture of one the piers on Wards Island.

Albert R Brecken posted
Hell Gate Bridge section of the New York Connecting RR; in the foreground is the Queens section of the bridge; 4-track electrified line.
Thomas Jones The New York Connecting Railroad was a joint venture of the Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroads. The Queens section of the bridge is known as Astoria, Queens.

Fred Guenther posted
Providence & Worcester train FPCH crosses Little Hell Gate bridge, NYC. The train is returning empty hopper cars to Connecticut that were filed with processed stone. Seen here 08-20-21.
J.B. Rail Photog shared

River Rail Photo posted
Phase III On The New York Connecting Railroad. On June 14, 2022, Amtrak 662 (Phase III, ACS-64) led Train 148, seen crossing the Hell Gate Bridge over Randalls and Wards Islands toward the Bronx, New York. The bridge spans more than 3 miles between Astoria in Queens, New York and the Bronx. Completed in 1917, the Hell Gate is part of the New York Connecting Railroad which was jointly owned by the New York, New Haven and Hartford and Pennsylvania Railroads and created to provide a through route on the east coast. Today it carries Amtrak, CSX, and G&W Providence & Worcester trains, and soon is projected to carry Metro-North trains as well. AMTK 662 is displaying a special "wrap" that was sponsored by Train Sim World 2 to celebrate Amtrak's 50th Anniversary in 2021.
More on Amtrak's Commemorative 50th Anniversary Locomotives:
Full resolution and prints: https://www.riverrailphoto.com/amtrak/e35e46d8e
J.B. Rail Photog shared

Pdro Ramos posted
The Hellgate Bridge
John H Campbell III It is said that the Sidney Harbour Bridge is based on the Hell Gate, just 60% bigger.Pedro RamosPedro and 704 others joined RAILROAD BRIDGES, TRESTLES, TUNNELS AND CUTS within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community! Yes it is
Charlie Bowyer posted
April 16, 1978. Hell Gate

Charlie Bowyer posted
Another view of Hell Gate from the rear of the Colonial April, 1978.
Robert J Ruotolo posted
Hell Gate - NYC
Marc Dufour shared two photos with the comment:
Hell Gate bridge, New-York.
I’ve heard that “one of the piles sits on a geological fault that had to be bridged underwater”. But I haven’t been able to find anything about that.
Would anyone have pointers to this, like diagrams of the substructure?
Timothy Daugherty Still standing??
Michael Sprintz Very much still standing. It’s how every Amtrak NEC train gets between NY-BOS. 
There is also a freight link via a third unelectrified track, which connects to Fresh Pond Yard of the New York and Atlantic.



Tommy Byrne posted
Construction of stanchions for New York Connecting Railroad to the Hell Gate Bridge.
Ellis Simon The New York Connecting Railroad, a joint venture of the Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroads, built and owned the bridge and the rail lines on Long Island. The railroad’s main (freight) line connected with the LIRR Bay Ridge branch at Fresh Pond Jct. and a (passenger) branch line connected with the LIRR at Harold interlocking for access to the East River tunnel and Penn Station.Marc Dufour shared
Building the Hell Gate bridge piers.
Marc Dufour I read somewhere that one of the abutments of the arch section is directly above a geological fault, so they had to build an underground/underwater bridge to span the fault.
Would you have some information regarding that?

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post
Albert R Brecken posted
The Hell Gate Bridge of the NEW York Connecting RR. This rail-line, fully electrified, eventually became the most direct route for an enormous volume of passenger and freight between New England and points West and South of Philidelphia via the PRR. When complete in 1918, it was the World's largest arch-type bridge. In the center of the group is chief engineer , Gustav Lindenthal.
Francis Kelly This was all part of PRR’s ambitious New York Terminal project.

At first I thought this was a drone shot. But then I saw it is a painting!
David Oram posted
Finished Today. [Oct 9, 2020]
New Haven FL9 #2058 on the Hell Gate Bridge
30” x 40”, Oil on Linen, 2020

Jimy Takvinsson shared

Matthew Smith posted
Hell Gate Bridge. Carries the Northeast Corridor in Queens over the East River in NYC. Some CSX freight trains use this bridge too.

Two of the four photos posted by Robert Reichenbach with the comment: "I walked across the Triborough Bridge twice today and, both times, I caught an Amtrak train enroute on either the Hellgate Bridge or the viaduct."


Jake Oster posted
Hell Gate Bridge

oldnyc has several pictures including a couple of the Randall Island Viaduct and one of a bearing.

Dave Frieder has an interesting collection of photos of this and other bridges in the New York area.

A drone video of the bridge

Dale van Ingen posted four photos and a video taken from the river.

Marty Bernard posted four photos of his ride over the bridge. (shared)

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