New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

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New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby Otto Vondrak » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:42 pm

Way to go, Pelham!

http://www.pelhamweekly.com/atf.php?sid ... 2010-02-26

Along with taxes, flooding remediation and downtown development, the Highbrook Bridge has come up as an issue in the current campaign for three Village of Pelham trustee positions. It must first be said that the Highbrook Bridge is not even really a bridge anymore. It is a former railroad bridge that has not been used in more than 70 years. The massive concrete structure spans Highbrook Avenue between Harmon and Lincoln Avenues with houses on all sides in the residential neighborhood, so most motorists driving under it hardly notice it. There are pedestrian sidewalks under it as well and fencing that prevents anyone from trying to climb it.


The town is hot to sell this land to a developer. Even if two more houses were sandwiched in there, would the increase in tax revenue offset the cost of removing this bridge? I dont think so. Visit this site to see a photo of the bridge under construction.

http://nywbry.com/gallery_photos.php

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:35 pm

Hi Otto -
- Glad you are supporting our Local NYW&B Bridge. Actually, it is not the Town of Pelham, but the Village of Pelham government which is proposing to restudy demolition of the Highbrook Avenue NY Westchester & Boston bridge, and the issue is likely to become a hot potato at the March 16th local election. The outcome is very much in doubt.

-Those supporting retaining the bridge as an historical landmark should contact Mayor Ed Hotchkiss, Village Hall, 195 Sparks Ave, Pelham NY 10803. There will be a candidates meeting March 4, Thursday at the above Village Hall.


-Community and Railfan support helped Scarsdale to save the Heathcote NYW&B station. It probably would help if people made the Mayor and Village Board in Pelham more aware of the historical significance of this railway landmark. Letters could be sent to Village Historian Blake Bell at the Village Hall. Letters to the Editor can be sent to the PELHAM WEEKLY http://www.pelhamweekly.com

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:04 pm

-I think the future of the old NYW&B bridge in Pelham is becoming a significant controversy. A lot of people don't wan't to spend large sums to secure the unsafe, crumbling concrete finish and restore a bridge that no longer goes anywhere. Others like the idea of new tax revenue if a developer tears down the bridge and builds houses on the land. Input to the Pelham Weekly might be useful.

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Otto Vondrak » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:18 am

fordhamroad wrote:-I think the future of the old NYW&B bridge in Pelham is becoming a significant controversy. A lot of people don't wan't to spend large sums to secure the unsafe, crumbling concrete finish and restore a bridge that no longer goes anywhere. Others like the idea of new tax revenue if a developer tears down the bridge and builds houses on the land. Input to the Pelham Weekly might be useful.


Silly that the town is willing to spend a million dollars to remove the bridge? The cost to complete any surface finish restoration would be far less in comparison. Of course, I don't live in Pelham, so all I can do is guess that someone on the town board must have an interest in awarding a contract to tear down the bridge, and then have further interest in selling the land to developers to squeeze in two more houses. "Follow the money."

Some more Highbrook Avenue photos posted here:

http://nywbry.com/gallery_photos.php

A new gallery of rare photos of NYW&B employees posted here:

http://nywbry.com/gallery_people.php

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:55 pm

Otto, thanks for posting those pictures, and thanks to your contributors. Such a great railroad, it's a shame it's not around today, it would probably be jammed, not with Manhattan commuters, but with intra-suburban commuters. Especially if it the "Northern" had been built!
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:31 pm

-Hi Otto

-I attended the March 4 Pelham Village candidates' meeting, and there was a scrap over saving the bridge and replacing it with taxable real estate.
-The consensus of the candidates was that further study would be given and that some cheaper methods of stabilizing the structure would be explored before any definite decisions were made. There was a promise on all sides that ample notice and public hearings would be held. So, we'll see.

-thanks for posting those new pictures of the Portchester end-of-line station in construction and just completed on the NYW&BRR site.
Very interesting that Portchester was originally faced in brick. Later photos seem to show a cement stucco veneer over the brick, giving it a much more "Mediterranean" look. Best wishes

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:36 am

-brief update on the NYW&B Highbrook Avenue bridge. Pelham Village elections were held March 16, and by a narrow margin -( 20-30 votes out of c. 800 cast) the pro development incumbents retained office, and the most outspoken bridge preservationists lost.
-There was some discussion during the campaign about restudying the cost of restoring, rather than demolishing the bridge. I suppose the outcome is in doubt, and will depend on the cost estimates. Then the debate will start again. I think it is still very unsure that the bridge will be retained. There are still hopes that a park can be established on the right of way, up on the bridge level, a "high line" type of park. Another major problem, aside from concrete weathering, is contaminated ballast and soil which might have to be replaced before the land can be used as a park.
-during the campaign, Mr. Warren Lyon supplied his reminiscences as a child, watching the even larger concrete arch bridge at Fifth Ave. Pelham demolished. This was an enormous structure, which arched over the avenue, and contained an NYW&B station on the top level. Mr. Lyon indicated that the job of taking it down was much more difficult than anticipated, took much longer than expected, and cost so much that the contractor went broke.

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Otto Vondrak » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:02 pm

fordhamroad wrote:nother major problem, aside from concrete weathering, is contaminated ballast and soil which might have to be replaced before the land can be used as a park.


I'm thinking there shouldn't be too much contamination to remove... The most toxic thing I could think of would be crushed cinders used as a base under the ballast... Electric trains don't drip fuel! Any toxic materials from the railroad were removed more than 60 years ago.

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:51 am

I don't think we're talking about creating another High Line park here. This is the aerial view:

Link: Google Sat

I don't know, this is a tough call. It's an odd strip of land, the bridge notwithstanding. I don't think you could get a row of townhomes in there as the ROW was two tracks and it wouldn't fit the character of the neighborhood. I could see 5, maybe 7 homes in there (if you put two homes back to back facing Highbrook and Young). I don't know what new construction is going for in Pelham (and it's moot since it's mostly developed), and what the comps would be in the neighboorhood, but you could figure in Pelham you'd get close to $750k/per? Total anywhere between $4 and $5m? I saw a show on "Flip this House" that had what was basically a cottage on Rockledge? in Mamaroneck, hard on the thruway between Rockland and Fenimore, that was going for something like 600k. Crazy.

Don't get me wrong, I would like to see the structure and small amount of ROW preserved. I'm sure the neighbors want it left just as is, and you'd be trading the extra tax base and develoment for a potential decrease in the value of the neighbor's homes (an intrinsic value in the eclectic character of the neighborhood). I'm just not sure what type of park you could turn it in to. Maybe a dog run/park? Who even has title to the land? This is a tough call.
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:33 am

-Hi Sarge, all good considerations. The Village of Pelham has title to the land, the last bit of the ROW they acquired for taxes when the NYW&B bellied up. Discussion was about two or three homes on the West side, with the hillside and a little playground on the East side, after the bridge would be removed. I don't think the Village board would spring for cramming townhouses in there. So, perhaps 2-3 $700,000 houses? Or perhaps, if the contractor had to pay for removing the bridge, a bit pricier. What would the annual tax yield on these be? Alternatively, how cheaply could the bridge cement work be restored? Since this is dedicated already as park land, would the Village be required to create an equal area of park land to replace it elsewhere in the Villege? Are there any park grants or private donations in prospect? More facts are needed.
-Interesting comparison with Rockledge, by Mamaroneck. It too contains a bridge, a remnant of the New York and Portchester which was never completed. The previous owner let the kids use the 4 track concrete bridge as a walkway to the high school. The Rockledge town house residents objected, so the passage was fenced off and blocked with hedge plantings. You can still admire it on the high school side. They left their historic railroad bridge intact. Check your Google maps.
-Otto, I am not sure what pollution there may be at Highbrook Ave. , traces perhaps or residue from the creosote ties? As you say, electric railroads run pretty clean. There was a pollution study done a few years back for the Village board, and that held off opening of the existing site as a playground.

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Otto Vondrak » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:09 pm

fordhamroad wrote:-Interesting comparison with Rockledge, by Mamaroneck.


Technically, the bridge is in my "backyard" in Harrison. Yes, it's still there, not bothering anybody since 1901.

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby Jeff Smith » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:01 pm

Actually, I misspoke when I said Rockledge, but that would be an existing abandoned (for a railroad abandoned before construction) railroad bridge, wouldn't it? Along with the Merrit bridge in CT north of Bridgeport and some stone abutments in Westchester for various railroads (and I'm guessing the old North Av station platforms of the NYW&B in the back of the shopping center).

What I meant was purely a real estate comparison for the road that parallels the NE Thruway between Fenimore and Rockland. The name still escapes me.
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby fordhamroad » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:00 pm

Hi all --

-As we wind up the first quarter of 2010, any updates on the Heathcote Station, or any other NYW&B facilities?

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston

Postby RDL 879 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:42 am

Sarge wrote:What I meant was purely a real estate comparison for the road that parallels the NE Thruway between Fenimore and Rockland. The name still escapes me.


That's Baldwin Place. I used to hunt for old bottles in the woods along there near Fenimore. :wink:
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NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:18 am

-a hearing about the future of the surviving NYW&B railroad bridge at Highbrook Ave will be held Thursday April 29, 2010 7:30 p.m.at the Pelham NY Village Hall 195 Sparks Avenue Pelham NY 10803. Trustee Joe Marty will discuss alternatives such as restoration or demolition of the landmark structure.
-anyone wishing to support preservation of the bridge as an historic landmark and as part of a neighborhood park could communicate support to
Trustee Joe Marty
Village of Pelham
195 Sparks Ave.
Pelham NY 10803

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