New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:32 am

-HIGHBROOK HIGHLINE NEWS-
-The Village Board of Pelham authorized a contract for $17,475 to Modjeski & Masters Inc. to study the structure of the Highbrook Ave. NYW&B bridge. Costs of restoration or demolition, recommended procedures. Still not sure ????????
-The Village Board authorized a $3,965 contract to Greener by Design to mitigate pollution and restore landscaping on the eastern end of the ROW, the landfill covering the old Storer Ave platforms. The Friends of Highbrook Highline then secured a $2000 grant from the Junior League of Pelham to buy shrubs and assist with the landscaping. A community get together to clean up the site is set for April 21, Earth Day.
That means there is unanimous approval for saving at least part of the site, while the Bridge study continues.
-The Friends of Highbrook Highline secured a ruling from the NY State Department of Parks and Historical Preservation that the Highbrook Ave Bridge is eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places. This might open the door for future grants and funding.
-The Friends are activiely encouraging the NYW&B Study Committee and the Board to do more. The Town Historian, Blake Bell, supported landmark designation. The Junior League and the Pelham Garden & Preservation Society are now supporters. We are hopeful of getting some help via our elected State representatives. We continue to lobby, publicize and spread the word. So far, the Village newspaper and the majority of the Village Board are still skeptics --- but as Victor Hugo said, "There is Nothing so Powerful as an Idea whose Time has come."

Happy 100th



Roger Wines
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:49 am

-The Modjeski & Masters study was received by the Pelham Village Board. It is posted on the Village website under Boston & Westchester Site Committee. It is a good and thorough engineering study, although it does not addres a minimal fix-up short of complete restoration.

-The rough cost estimate is about three million dollars to demolish the sturdy concrete bridge and prepare the site for housing.

-the estimate to repair and restore the bridge to 1912 condition as an historical landmark is slightly over 3 million dollars.

-pieces of the abutment have fallen down due to deterioration of the concrete. For insurance purposes, the village has fenced off the NYW&B bridge and right of way. The easternmost section of the line, in Pelham, was reopened this summer as a local play space, and planted with grass and bushes by volunteers on Planet Day. It is about one third of the surviving ROW in Pelham.
-Like most local governments, the village is beset with reduced real estate taxes, the need to repay large sums to the state pension fund, and rising cost of current operations. They are very reluctant to take out a 3 million dollar bond issue.

-I'm not sure what will happen next.

Roger Wines
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:06 pm

Hi - --
-just an update. The bridge still stands, crumbled a few more pieces of surface concrete. The Highbrookhighline group celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NYW&B with a champagne party for neighbors underneath the arch . People from the NY Highline and the Sierra Club have endorsed the idea of a walking path through the woods and across the bridge as a local greenspace. The Village of Pelham, which owns the land, has still not given its consent to apply for the State and National Historical Register status, which had been promised by the NY State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation.
-the M&M engineering report mentioned above came in -- it would cost about three million dollars to dismantle the bridge, and perhaps three million to completely restore it. --Big money for a small village like North Pelham. In the meantime, the Village decoded to fence off the bridge structure with chain link fence, to prevent any law suits or liability from falling concrete. The Highbrookhighline group has proposed cleaning up the right of way and opening a simple walking path through the woods, utilizing local volunteer labor instead of contractors, and raising donations from local civic groups, to help with replanting. The object would be to create the greenspace, with appropriate historic markers, on the model of White Plains. It is hoped that this could be done at a minimum cost, while long range money is sought from grants etc. for the repair of the bridge structure.
-The Highbrookhighline group has submitted data to the Village Board about how local passive recreation parks, such as this one, have increased property values 20% for homes within 600 feet of the greenspace, with residual effects up to 1000 ft. There is a financial case for keeping and using the Bridge to improve tax yields, and eventually pay for creating the greenspace.
-the NYW&B Highbrook Avenue bridge is an issue in the current 2013 Village Board election. For and Against candidates are running.
-So, the Bridge is still there, and the possibility is still there. Perhaps the NYW&B monument will simply be banked for future use and repair. Perhaps a small start will be made, on recognizing the value of the site as a rail to trail and historic monument site. We will have to keep advocating until someone hears us.

Roger Wines
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:08 pm

-HOPE rises. New Elections in Pelham. Susan Mutti, one of the energetic leaders of the Highbrook High Line preservation group was just elected to the Pelham Village Board. We now have a more sympathetic governmental body. This is essential, because the old NYW&B right of way in Pelham is owned by the Village.
-We are hoping to plant some Dorothy Perkins Roses by the bridge, as a reminder of the Railroad Rambling Rose used by the NYNH&H and the NYW&B for landscaping. Section A, on the east end of the tract, has already been opened as a public greenspace. The Village cleaned it up for Earth Day celebration. Volunteers are being organized for additional site work.
-Our application to put the Highbrook Avenue Bridge and related NYW&B right of way on the State and National Register of Historic Places -- some 800 ft. --was deemed eligible by the New York State Dept. of Parks and Preservation -- when and If the Pelham Village Board agrees to request it. We now have hope that we can persuade the new Board to approve.
-if we can get Board approval to apply, we will go back to fundraising. If we can keep the budget low enough, there is a good chance the NYW&B property will be saved and made into a walking trail with historic Bridge and marker.
I will keep the group posted about any developments.

Roger Wines
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:56 am

fordhamroad wrote: -We are hoping to plant some Dorothy Perkins Roses by the bridge, as a reminder of the Railroad Rambling Rose used by the NYNH&H and the NYW&B for landscaping.

Can you tell me more about the Railroad Rambler Rose? Never heard of it, or of the NH using rambler roses for landscaping, although I do recall roses growing along the platform at Branchville before the high levels were put in.
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby TCurtin » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:49 am

The official name of the variety of "rambler rose" planted along the NH right of way is "Dorothy Perkins Rambler" So, they're sort of one and the same. Remnants of them are getting very uncommon these days. They are pretty durable. Back in the 1980s in the early years of Metro North there were still some substantial patches surviving in many places but not many any more, unfortunately. They hit their maximum bloom about the 3rd week in June if anybody wants to go looking.

While we're on this matter, does anybody out there know of any spots along the New Haven ROW thet are good to look for them today?
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:56 pm

Hi Tom -- I'm not sure of along the track, but Dave Peters has a lot growing in his yard in Wallingford. Best wishes Roger
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby chnhrr » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:38 pm

Hopefuly; something good will happen. Here is an aerial view of the bridge, abutments and approaches. The total overall length appears to be roughly 500 feet. Quite an impressive structure.
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NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge Saved

Postby fordhamroad » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:28 pm

Past posts related how the Highbrook Avenue Bridge , a massive structure of the late New York, Westchester and Boston Railway, was in danger of being torn down by the Village of Pelham. A five year struggle by local citizens to save the venerable structure., organized as the Highbrook Highline (google their web site) has finally succeeded.

Last night 10/20/2015 the Pelham Village board voted 6-1 to declare the bridge site parkland. The bridge will be preserved.

Deputy Mayor Susan Mutti, a sparkplug of the Highbrook Highline movement, led the fight for approval.

The Highbrook Highline group is now looking for funds to restore the bridge as part of a "rails to trails" nature trail. The village conducted an engineering study which showed the bridge to be sound after 100 years. However, the concrete stucco finish is spalling and cracked in many places, and an historic restoration will be necessary. It would cost about $350,000.00 to tear the bridge down, and slightly less than that to repair it. It will probably sit the way it is for a few more years while efforts are made to come up with the money. The village just doesn't have that kind of cash.

In the meantime, the Highbrook Highline group has rescued and rehabilitated (with volunteer workers and donated materials,) one third of the surviving NYW&B right of way, the level part which covers the site of an old station --- and opened it as a neighborhood play area. Plans are afoot to open part of the nature trail next year.

The bridge is a master work of architectural design, created along with other NYW&B structures by Alfred Fellheimer, who led the design team for Grand Central Terminal.

An application is in the works for listing as a State and Federal landmark. Drop by if you are near Pelham. It is and will remain a wonderful sight.

Roger Wines
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Re: NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge Saved

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:32 pm

I like this good news, best luck to them.
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Re: NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge Saved

Postby YamaOfParadise » Thu Oct 22, 2015 2:30 pm

Great news; traces of the NYW&B are few and far in-between, and ever diminishing. I do find it interesting that rehabilitation of the bridge is actually (marginally) cheaper than straight-up demolition, though; hopefully they can get enough money for a restoration before those costs start inverting.

Now, if only someone can also magic some funds into existence to save the old Westchester Avenue station...
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:00 am

NYW&B Railfans --

Happy to report to you that the old NYW&B concrete bridge over Highbrook Avenue in New Rochelle has been saved. After a five year struggle by local residents and NYW&B railfans, the Village of Pelham board voted Oct. 20 2015 to dedicate the site as parkland, protecting it against another move to tear it down and put up housing. One third of the 800 ft. remaining NYW&B right of way has already been rescued by the Friends of Highbrook Highline, and with volunteer community labor, transformed into an attractive greenspace. Supporters donated plants and planted bushes, flowers and lawn. The remaining section of NYW&B route, including the bridge, is overgrown with medium size trees. The Highbrook Highline group have permission from the village to transform it into a nature trail, inspired by the White Plains rail to trail project. Hopefully volunteer work over the winter will allow it to open by Spring 2016.
The group also persuaded the village, as landowner, to request listing of the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. It prepared a landmark application with appropriate documentation, which has been favorably received the NY State Office of Historical Preservation. The Highbrook Friends, led by Deputy Mayor Susan Mutti was assisted by railfans Otto Vondrak, Robert Bang and Roger Wines in gathering material for the application and their splendid little website highbrookhighline.com
There is a lot of work still to be done landscaping. The group got the village to pay for an engineering study of the bridge. It would coast about $350,000 to tear down -- solid 1910 reinforced concrete -- and about $340,000 to restore. Some portions of the top have fallen, and spalling concrete stucco on the sides needs to be artistically replaced. It will be a big restoration project. The Highbrook group has received technical information from the Concrete Bridge historians and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy. When we receive official confirmation of National Register status, we hope to apply for grants. See the highbrookhighline.com site for more information and photographs.
Hopefully the NYW&B Highbrook Avenue Bridge will continue for another century as a Pelham landmark. Thanks to all who helped and labored.

Roger Wines
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:02 am

Congratulations, Roger! Great news. Outside of the Bronx, there's not much left, so I'm thrilled that this has been saved.
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Re: NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge Saved

Postby chnhrr » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:49 pm

I’m a little late on this one, but three cheers for historical preservation. Hopefully it will be as successful as New York’s High Line.
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Re: New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

Postby fordhamroad » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:34 pm

Hi All Ye NYW&B Railfans-

Update on the NYW&B Highbrook Ave Bridge and associated surviving roadbed of the New Yotk, Westchester and Boston in Pelham NY. We reported earlier that the ROW had been saved from development, and designated a park by the Village of Pelham.

As of March 3, Village of Pelham crew started clearing brush and beginning a pathway through the NYW&B right of way toward the Highbrook Avenue bridge. We hope to continue. With good fortune, and working on it from time to time, we hope to have a rails to trail path open by summer. Right now we are awaiting word from Albany, NY Parks and Preservation, about progress on our application for listing of the Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Friends of the Highbrook Highline are exploring possible donations of money, manpower and materials to enhance the path and restore the concrete surfaces on the Bridge. Our engineering consultant assures us it is very solid. We better get it in shape for the next hundred years.


Roger Wines
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