52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

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52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Clearfield » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:25 pm

Cinders is reporting:

"Preliminary work will soon begin on the old Pennsy right-of-way west of 52nd Street in West Philly on which SEPTA will build a new connection to the Cynwyd line. This will allow AMTRAK to retire its long through truss bridge which now carries Cynwyd-bound MU cars but can't support anything heavier"
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby khecht » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:31 pm

As I recall, this bridge is over 100 years old, and its use was reduced when the Overbrook shops were built - westbound SEPTAs to Paoli would cross the bridge and return to ground level where the shops now are; Cynwyd trains would diverge to the north as they do now. There seems plenty of room in the existing ROW to build a SEPTA ground connection for Cynwyd-bound trains just to the NE of the bridge. I believe the PRR deemed the bridge necessary back in the day to separate passenger traffic from the huge old 49th Street freight yard, but with the bridge in bad shape and really logistically unnecessary today, it does make sense to do this, and doing so may reduce maintenance costs there. Is it being dismantled?
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Clearfield » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:55 pm

khecht wrote:Is it being dismantled?


Doubt it. The abandoned P&T overpass at Whitford is still there, and it was built in 1906.
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby khecht » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:04 pm

Clearfield wrote:
khecht wrote:Is it being dismantled?


Doubt it. The abandoned P&T overpass at Whitford is still there, and it was built in 1906.


That's what I figured. It'll be one gigantic catenary support I guess. There are other aged bridges around, such as several on the Atglen & Susquehanna, and an old overpass just east of Devon station on the main line that used to be a Valley Forge Rd overpass but hasn't carried a car in my lifetime but has signals on it, that I suppose could be scrapped but haven't been, presumably as they're structurally sound enough.
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby nomis » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:30 pm

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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby CNJGeep » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:58 pm

I recall reading in an article that the bridge at one point (I guess in the early '90s) was so weak that your thumb could punch a hole in some parts of it.
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Amtrak67 of America » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:11 am

CNJGeep wrote:I recall reading in an article that the bridge at one point (I guess in the early '90s) was so weak that your thumb could punch a hole in some parts of it.

Heh, thats probably true. I never felt to comfortable running over it. I suppose thats the reason why it has a 15mph over the entire structure. Speaking of weak looking metals, you should check out the overbuild surrounding 30th street station where the contractor's are working. Some of that steel is badly corroded thatthere are holes in the steelwork.SCARY!!!
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby RCman2626 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:31 am

The FRA has really tightened up bridge inspection regulations as of 2010. They now require all railroads to submit their own programs for bridge inspection for approval. It is now a big part of their audit process. It makes it really hard for things to fly under the radar anymore. See PART 237—BRIDGE SAFETY STANDARDS for information about the whole process.

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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Jersey_Mike » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:41 pm

That bridge has been on the to be replaced docket for years. It's whole reason d'etre was called into question when the track 4 was re-aligned off the bridge to make way for the Overbrook shoppes. It's just taken SEPTA/Amtrak 20 years to re-align the Cynwyd branch. Of course the reason for that is that SEPTA probably figured they'd be able to "temporarily suspend" service on it by now.
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby tgolanos » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:57 pm

Jersey_Mike wrote:Of course the reason for that is that SEPTA probably figured they'd be able to "temporarily suspend" service on it by now.



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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby glennk419 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:29 am

Maybe they can just park a couple SLII / III's on it and turn it into the the Philly Rail Memorial. ;)
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby N-Trizzy2609 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:38 am

My question is, why didn't they think of this before?
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Bill R. » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:15 am

Jersey_Mike wrote:That bridge has been on the to be replaced docket for years. It's whole reason d'etre was called into question when the track 4 was re-aligned off the bridge to make way for the Overbrook shoppes. It's just taken SEPTA/Amtrak 20 years to re-align the Cynwyd branch. Of course the reason for that is that SEPTA probably figured they'd be able to "temporarily suspend" service on it by now.


I'd guess that everyone here is aware that there is room along the north side of the Main Line R.O.W. to build a connecting ramp for Main Line west-bound to Cynwyd north-bound moves, but who will pay to build this ramp? This is an especially urgent question given the recent developments at the Federal level with respect to transportation funding.

Call me cynical, but I can easily envision the scenariao where Amtrak says "It's a SEPTA service, we don't have the money - not our problem" and SEPTA says "Amtrak is the landlord, we don't have the money - it's their fault" with the resulting mexican standoff triggering a "suspension" of Cynwyd service.

Is it even possible with existing infrastructure, even without considering schedule constraints, to operate in both directions through the tunnel underneath the Main Line?
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Jersey_Mike » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:21 am

You don't need to build a ramp, the ramp already exists. There was a graded connection from the Belmont Yards to the PRR Schuylkill branch until freight service on that line ended. It's a matter of re-laying the track and tying it into the main line, probably at PAXON interlocking. It's a line item in the capitol budget same as any other that SEPTA will pay for.
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Re: 52nd Street Bridge to Cynwyd to be Retired

Postby Patrick Boylan » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:48 am

Bill R, I don't remember any specifics, but I've heard over lo these 2 decades or so, and maybe even read corroboration in hallowed rr.net fora, that it's not feasible to run even the few Cynwyd trains we do have single track through the current inbound tunnel. If I had to guess I'd say it's because there's too much inbound Harrisburg-Paoli track that the outbound Cynwyd trains would have to occupy.
Jersey_Mike, unless my childhood memories are wrong the connection of which you speak was electrified, another case where we could have relatively easily fixed today's problem if we had just left yesterday's infrastructure alone.
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