maintenance of unused bridges etc

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maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby NRGeep » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:40 pm

Thinking specifically of the abandoned Central Mass line bridge which crosses over the Fitchburg line between Brandeis/Roberts and Kendall stations. Nothing has run over it in over 30 years. Does Keolis/T periodically check it for safety in regards to it potentially decaying onto active Fitchburg beneath it?
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Re: maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:28 pm

Yes. Absolutely. They have to do the same on all abandoned bridges that are their property, although obviously rate of inspections is much higher when it's a bridge over an active road or railway vs. a small-stream trestle way out in the woods. The maint budget for such structures is mere pennies above zero, and if they remain in place at all on a landbanked state-owned (vs. abandoned-abandoned with lapsed private ownership) line it's usually because they've been deemed structurally safe to remain long-term at no harm to their surroundings. They will go out and remove such a structure if it poses a long-term risk, but that happens more frequently with derelict footbridges and old private driveway bridges than it does with abandoned rail bridges. Those rail bridges, despite their dilapidated appearances, were usually many times overbuilt for their needs...unlike a lot of the flimsy footbridges you can still see dotting various parts of the system. These rail bridges might need replacement for modern train weights if the landbanked line in question were ever reactivated, but for just keeping on standing safely upright as-is...decades upon decades of steel left in them before they become a stability concern.
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Re: maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby edbear » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:12 pm

Are you sure Keolis checks abandoned MBTA owned property...as a part of their commuter rail operating contract? When I worked for B & M, Amtrak, MBCR, the limits of M-O-W maintenance were spelled out. The limits were the active passenger track (or those sections anticipated to be restored to service during the term of the contract - like the Old Colony and Newburyport were add-ons scheduled to be opened during an ongoing contract term). On the roads for which I worked, we got calls for a variety of duties on MBTA owned rail property which were not active commuter track. We did what was requested and billed the MBTA separately for the tasks. I did the billing and I remember these; Coast Guard ordered improvements to navigation lights on Newburyport Draw - or else remove it - so we bought a boat and made the improvements; clean up trash and debris dumped behind homes on Saugus Branch; clean snow off sidewalks on a parkway bridge which was responsibility of DCR (W Rox or Hyde Pk); remove trees which had fallen into adjacent yards near Concord St., NL Falls; hire a junker to remove abandoned autos on CM right-of-way off White Pond Road (Hudson/Stow/Sudbury Line) and erect barriers so cars to be torched or abandoned couldn't be brought in; seal up freight house in Sagamore, W. Barnstable or some place down there that had been torched; things like that. These locations were not on any lines covered by any of the operating contracts. They were also quite contentious as some people at the MBTA developed amnesia when they got the bill. This was somewhat resolved with I think the last Amtrak contract term. We had to have 2 M-O-W people available to wherever the MBTA wished to use them. They were not used all that often, so they bolstered regular M-O-W crews. The CM bridge east of Kendal Green is considered part of the CM Branch, not the Fitchburg. It does show as an overpass on the Fitchburg plans. However, all the overhead highway bridges also show on the all MBTA active track plans (and inactive too). The MBTA, I think, does not actively look at its abandoned property.
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Re: maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:35 pm

It might not be Keolis, but somebody has to do it. On ROW's that are trailed it is most likely DCR since that's their bag. Abandoned ROW's with active power lines (Central Mass, etc.) might have that bundled in with state-level parties responsible for inspecting the power lines and vehicular access, or a reimbursement check doled out to the power company to do it when they inspect their towers. MassDOT obviously for bridges over roads. And borrowing T labor w/ billbacks for other one-off situations, like when MassDOT borrows them for out-of-district engineering on MassDOT-owned lines.

As long as somebody does it and reports on it, they're good. But it's still the line owner's responsibility to ensure their bridges and culverts are inspected intermittently to make sure the structures aren't an accident/injury/contamination risk. The only way out of that is to outright abandon and abdicate the property rights. Landbanking does come with minor maint strings attached, even if the cost is almost undetectably small.
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Re: maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:40 am

Isn't it true that is cost less to keep abandoned bridges in place as opposed to taking them down and that's why so many are still in place? For example, the Central Mass branch bridge mentioned earlier which goes right over the Fitchburg line hasn't been used in years and most likely never will again.
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Re: maintenance of unused bridges etc

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:35 am

theseaandalifesaver wrote:Isn't it true that is cost less to keep abandoned bridges in place as opposed to taking them down and that's why so many are still in place? For example, the Central Mass branch bridge mentioned earlier which goes right over the Fitchburg line hasn't been used in years and most likely never will again.


Yep. It costs nothing to keep it in place other than sending an inspector out every few years for a look-see. They only take them out when there's a good reason to spend the removal money (e.g. a road construction project that requires knocking out the rail overpass) or an imminent safety risk.
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