M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Tue Aug 04, 2015 6:37 pm

Kind of related to capacity, there are some stations that need help--especially with ADA access. Speculating here, but is the reason that Millburn and Short Hills have not had any ADA work done to them the result of plans for a future expansion project? You wouldn't want to add hi-level platforms at the platform ends, only to tear them out 10 years later to accommodate a third track. Both stations see decent ridership, and you would expect that at least one would have a hi-level ADA option like South Orange or Madison. Your closest options for easy ADA access if you live in Maplewood, Millburn or Short Hills are South Orange or Summit, IIRC. It seems like Millburn would be the logical station if you're going to pick one station to place ADA in, splitting the difference in travel by car/taxi/etc. But they're only repairing the platform edges in Millburn, since they're crumbling apart. And so far, only on the EB side. Not on the side that a third track would extend through. Hmmm.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby nick11a » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:58 pm

time wrote:Kind of related to capacity, there are some stations that need help--especially with ADA access. Speculating here, but is the reason that Millburn and Short Hills have not had any ADA work done to them the result of plans for a future expansion project? You wouldn't want to add hi-level platforms at the platform ends, only to tear them out 10 years later to accommodate a third track. Both stations see decent ridership, and you would expect that at least one would have a hi-level ADA option like South Orange or Madison. Your closest options for easy ADA access if you live in Maplewood, Millburn or Short Hills are South Orange or Summit, IIRC. It seems like Millburn would be the logical station if you're going to pick one station to place ADA in, splitting the difference in travel by car/taxi/etc. But they're only repairing the platform edges in Millburn, since they're crumbling apart. And so far, only on the EB side. Not on the side that a third track would extend through. Hmmm.


The laws with ADA compliancy (which I am not versed on) do have some weird grandfathering impacts. For instance, I believe they don't need to add any ADA things until there is major work done on a platform updating it. So, a platform/station could go on for years without having one until it was needed to be done.

However, there are stations that haven't followed this. North Branch only got a proper platform 9 years ago (prior to that, it had a pile of stones acting as a platform) and while ADA laws were in effect, the platform installed is not ADA compliant (low level only.) So, I don't know!
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:16 pm

Well, let's hope the reason Millburn and Short Hills have not had significant work done is due to future planned expansion! Dreams, not reality. But one can hope.

I'm guessing Short Hills residents would make the largest stink about any planned system expansion, especially if it threatened their westbound station building. Then again, so many of the current residents moved there for the easy access to NYC, so anything that improves upon the service may be welcomed with open arms.

Time will tell.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby nick11a » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:40 pm

time wrote:Well, let's hope the reason Millburn and Short Hills have not had significant work done is due to future planned expansion! Dreams, not reality. But one can hope.

I'm guessing Short Hills residents would make the largest stink about any planned system expansion, especially if it threatened their westbound station building. Then again, so many of the current residents moved there for the easy access to NYC, so anything that improves upon the service may be welcomed with open arms.

Time will tell.


Speaking of, there is work going on at Millburn. Looks almost like they are expanding the eastbound platform further east.... not quite to the length of the westbound platform, but a fair bit closer.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby BigDell » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:48 pm

...and more tunnel in the NYTimes
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/08/nyreg ... .html?_r=0

This is probably in the Amtrak forum but it affect NJ Transit directly... Seems like NY/NJ both want grants, not loans (makes perfect sense). I DO understand why Christie killed a plan that would have had a horribly bloated budget (I keep picturing what Boston went through with The Dig...).
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:39 pm

Yup, more dragging of the feet by the feds. I can't think of a single project that would create more of an economic benefit over its lifetime than the Gateway tunnels. It is money very well spent, and will benefit generations to come. Unfortunately, a promise for future generations doesn't get you elected these days.

Getting back to the M&E, I can't decide if they're extending the platform in Millburn and possibly putting in a hi-level ADA mini platform, or if they're just fixing what they disturbed while fixing the rest of the low level platform edge.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:10 am

Today's NJT board meeting is supposed to authorize funds for conceptual design services for the replacement of the Newark Draw over the Passaic River. The design is supposed to feature three tracks (as opposed to existing two). The new bridge is supposed to be movable. That amazes me. Is there any river traffic at that location? How many times has this bridge been open over the last 10 years? I really think that the Coast Guard needs to accept a bridge design similar to the new Portal bridge, where the load bearing structure is above. The existing bridge is quite high to begin with and if the new one has no heavy structural elements below, that should be enough for all practical purposes. No? It is not as if industry will come back along the Passaic and we will need to haul heavy cargo by boats.

Another interesting question is how they even can do the replacement without shutting down the line for an extended period of time? Anything short of one track bridge followed by a second two track bridge will require months of complete shutdown. Even with a one track bridge built first, there will be a severe limit on the throughput until full project completion.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:59 pm

Great find EuroStar! Also, thanks for resurrecting this thread.

It's interesting that they're calling for a three track bridge. Coupled with extending three tracks from Broad Street Station to where it again becomes three tracks (somewhere in Harrison), this project should greatly increase capacity and decrease bottlenecks. I can't imagine how they'll accomplish the project, given the area constraints. Is there enough room to build a bridge to the south and adjust the track alignment? I suspect that would come at massive cost, due to Newark downtown land prices, and the grade of the area requiring a viaduct to bridge the above grade Newark Broad Street station and the drawbridge.

The Passaic River does have boat traffic potential above RT 280:

#387 Linde-Griffith Construction Company Wharf - not in use
#386 Passaic River Terminals - 150,000 tons tons transported 1996-2006
(Formerly W.A.S. Terminals Wharf)
#385 Napp-Grecco Wharf - not in use
#384 Q Facility Petroleum Wharf - not in use
#383 Lionetti Oil Recovery Services Company Wharf #382 Riverbank Petroleum Company Wharf - 2,500 tons transported 1996-2006

I'm not sure how active these industries are in 2017, or if they're still using the river for distribution. Here is the source doc, last revised in 2010:
http://passaic.sharepointspace.com/Publ ... alysis.pdf

Later on in the document they describe use post 2006. I don't have time to sum it up, but there are deliveries, even if it's use is fairly light. I'd imagine as long as there is still one customer to serve, they won't let a "lesser" bridge be built. Perhaps that will go into this project - a request to build a fixed bridge at a certain height, and reclassify that portion of the river. Doing so would also help for the eventual replacement of the Stickel bridge, which went through a major rehab but will eventually (decades more) need replacement.

Now we just need plans for three tracks from Millburn to Summit, double tracking and catenary from MSU to Denville, expansion of Port Morris yard, the entire Gateway project completed and system expansion to Delaware Water Gap. :)
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:32 pm

Isn't the state planning to do a big dredging of the river in the next few years to environmentally remediate all the silt runoff near the mouth that's left it nearly unnavigable? That would definitely restore a modicum of the boat traffic that's vanished if the depths were rolled back to what they were a few decades ago.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:50 am

I don't believe it's a question of needing to dredge to make the river a viable use for larger boat navigation. The environmental remediation is meant to clear the silt that contains toxic substances, which has layered on the bottom of the river bed. It was made worse by previous dredging, and subsequent silt buildup, but according to the document posted the depths have been maintained and the river is still navigable.

The real question is whether there is any viable industry left, especially after Rt. 280, for which the classification of a federal navigation channel (and relevant infrastructure requirements) is still needed.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:02 am

A quick glance at the satellite photos on google confirms my gut feeling that generally speaking there is sufficient space for a third track everywhere. The challenge is that between the bridge and Harrison interlocking the best space for the new track is on the north of the existing tracks, while between the bridge and Broad interlocking it is on the south because of the 'clover' for I-280 on the north side plus the old tower also on the north side. The real problem is likely to be the parcel on the south of Broad interlocking though. I believe that it is supposed to be redeveloped soon and I do not know of NJT has any air rights further south than the existing tracks.

No offense to the Coast Guard and the shipping industry, but I do not see how the trade off is worth it with requiring movable bridge on such lightly used waterway. I skimmed the report, but 2006 was more than a decade ago and unless the EPA is planning to pay for dredging, I do not see how the state can afford it (not that it should not be done in an ideal world, but where is the money?) It might even be cheaper to buy-out the shippers and relocate them to facilities with better boat access and deeper waters. Of course if these shippers are still active the state will never consider buying them out because someone is going to scream 'jobs are being destroyed' even if that is not true.

The agenda item was approved by the board. So the conceptual design contract will go ahead.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:16 pm

A third track from whatever interlocking that is in Harrison near where the M&E begins to follow the NEC is paramount and has been needed for a long time. It’s also been time to build a new bridge over the Passaic River.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:18 pm

EuroStar wrote: It might even be cheaper to buy-out the shippers and relocate them to facilities with better boat access and deeper waters. Of course if these shippers are still active the state will never consider buying them out because someone is going to scream 'jobs are being destroyed' even if that is not true.


I think the bigger issue would be towns / counties fighting to retain shipping access to industry parcels. That's good tax revenue, and they'll put up a fight to maintain access, in hopes to lure new industry in the future.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:08 am

time wrote:I think the bigger issue would be towns / counties fighting to retain shipping access to industry parcels. That's good tax revenue, and they'll put up a fight to maintain access, in hopes to lure new industry in the future.

You are probably right, but the reality is that the industry is gone and is not coming back, not to this part of NJ. Many majors and county executives dream of industry because it is taxable property without provision of much services (industrial parcels do not send children to the local schools). Unfortunately those are the same towns and counties that would not permit and fight many typical industrial uses, for example, storage of flammable or volatile compounds and fuels. They are the ones who would rile up against truck traffic, noise, taller industrial structures, power lines and so on. Real productive industry needs at least a few of those. As long as they are not willing to accept at least some of those, real industry will stay away from north NJ even setting aside the high labor cost in the area. Elected officials benefit from keeping alive the fantasy that there is this magical industry just waiting to move in town that generates no externalities that affect the residents so that they can get elected or stay in office. Unfortunately it is a fantasy. I do not recall a single recent example of meaningfully large industrial enterprise moving to the area.

Industry has been leaving for a long time. For a while the mantra was to attract corporate offices and while collar workers to office parks. It worked for a while. Now those are leaving too, either for much cheaper places south or for the city. I know of at least 4 large projects(200+ new apartments/units each) in my county converting old industrial and office park sites to residential uses. The area needs to accept and embrace its destiny as a bedroom community. Some industrial uses, such as recycling collection and warehousing will always remain, but the real productive industry producing widgets or whatever is gone and is not coming back no matter how much we wish it.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:39 pm

To give you an idea of the potential scale of this project, here is what it would take to add an extra track between Broad Street station and where it goes back to three tracks again in Harrison:

From the west:
- Either add to the existing viaduct or replace the viaduct in Newark for 850 feet to the Passaic River. 20-30 foot above grade?
- Replace or add a bridge over the six lanes, plus sidewalks, of Rt. 21 in Newark.
- Replace the swing bridge carrying the M&E over the Passaic River.
- Add a bridge over Passaic Ave. in Harrison
- Add to the existing fill and possible retaining walls for 400 feet from Passaic Ave to Hamilton St.
- Add a bridge over Hamilton street.
- Add to existing fill for 250 feet between Hamilton St. and Cleveland Ave.
- Add a bridge over Cleveland Ave.
- Add to existing fill for 200 feet between Cleveland Ave. and Harrison Ave, plus possible retaining walls in areas of tight clearance.
- Add bridge over Harrison Ave.
- Replace all catenary poles and structures in double tracked portion (approx. 3/4 of a mile)
- Update signals as necessary.
- Replace / retro fit switches in Harrison and Newark (although one may be able to argue you could value engineer this to one switch, since it will be triple tracked all the way).
- Add the third track.

And, of course, all the non physical infrastructure items. Property acquisition, design process, EPA permits, community communications, railroad traffic control, highway/street traffic control, pedestrian traffic control, etc., etc., etc.

So, yeah. I'd put this in the 800 million+ bracket, 6 years from shovel in the ground to finish.
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