M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

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

Postby EuroStar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 am

The two track replacement of the Portal bridge is $1.5B now. That $800M estimate of yours is likely too low. The real cost will come of they insist on keeping the service operational at the existing level while the bridge is being replaced. The only possible location for a second bridge while the existing one is still in service is to the south. The problem with that is that then they will need a NEW three track viaduct from about Broad Interlocking to the river plus a NEW three track viaduct from the river to at least Hamilton St in Harrison. These will require acquisition of the two lots with the junky containers on both sides of McCarter Highway plus the triangular parcel on the corner of Passaic and Hamilton on Harrison. In my opinion all that is going to be very expensive and unnecessary. The thing to do is to put the third track on the north side of the existing tracks. That is easy -- no property acquisitions, no NIMBY because the track will go on the side of the highway. The clover will need a little modification, the tower even if it is historical needs to go. Then put a single track lift bridge on the north side. Either close the river or operationally, the lift bridge will need to go up first, then lift the existing swing span, but my preference is for 2-3 year river traffic closure. Then cut reverse peak service and run the peak service on the single new span while replacing the swing bridge and its approach structures. Commute will suck for about 2 years due to the single tracking, but this avoids property acquisitions and allows for reuse of any of the existing approach structures and fills that are in good condition. Of course value engineering is all forgotten once politicians start pandering to the electorate. I am ready to bet that the southern location will get chosen in the final design.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:13 pm

I don't think property acquisition to the South will be required. Once the Rt 280 / Rt 21 intersection improvements are complete, the clover ramp from 21 to 280 east will be demolished, making room for a realignment to the North on state owned land.

http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/c ... ements.pdf

As you stated, they could close the river to traffic for the duration of the project. That would allow a temporary bridge to be built, possibly relatively cheaply as they could just pile drive right into the river bed for support - no span - just a ton of steel beams and temporary support structures. That temporary bridge and viaduct could maintain two tracks, as they rebuild the current bridge into a new three track configuration, possibly as a draw bridge. Then demolish the temporary bridge and reopen the mainline on the current alignment.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:58 am

I was not aware of the extent of the changes of the road interchange. It does look that it would help.

I am not a fan of temporary structures, no matter how 'temporary' a structure is, if it needs to hold a train (or two for a two track temporary bridge), it will be way too expensive. If the new interchange gives them enough space for two tracks north of the existing one, then I could see them opting for building a new 2 track bridge on the north followed by a one track bridge once the existing one is demolished. Given the amount and type of river traffic, your intuition that it is likely to be a bascule (draw) bridge is probably right. Lift bridges are somewhat more expensive and provide higher clearance that is unlikely to be needed here.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:32 pm

Perhaps they could do what they did in 1901. Float the old one out, float the new one in. Done in a weekend. :-D

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 946097D6CF
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:40 pm

Also, It sounds like the current bridge may be rusted in place, anyway...

"New Jersey Transit Rail Operations records indicate there has not been a request to open the NJTRO Bridge since December, 1991."

As of 1998. I doubt anything has changed.

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-0 ... -16666.pdf
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:20 am

I am sorry, but that reference is for the wrong bridge. NJTRO bridge at mile 11.7 is on the Main Line between Lyndhurst and Delawanna. Also it is out of date, as it refers to a movable bridge on Route 3 at mile 11.8. There is no movable bridge at that location -- must have been replaced over the last two decades. I do believe that the bridge on the Main Line has not been opened ever since that report.

If you have the time you can do further research, but here is a reference that says that the Route 280 bridge has received requests for opening only 8 times between 1987 and 1999 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-02-01/pdf/FR-1999-02-01.pdf. The Route 280 bridge is at mile 5.8, so the M&E Newark draw must be at mile 5.7. It might be possible to infer the traffic from the openings of the Dock Bridge, which are definitely not many, but I do not have the time to research this now.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:06 pm

I don't have time either. And I'm apparently confused on the bridges anyhow. But, I think its safe to say any openings are rare.

It would be interesting to see a large boat navigate up the Passaic. The traffic disruption it would cause would be epic, if it went through at 8 am.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby kilroy » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:29 pm

Dock opened a few times in the 2005-2006 time frame but the tugs/barges only went up as far the Diamond Shamrock site they were cleaning up.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:44 pm

Hopefully the change in political leadership means good things will happen on these dreams (capacity improvements). I think we'll see an announcement of full funding restored to NJT operations and capital by Spring, possibly even some retroactive capital funding to make up for years of neglect. It's the single quickest thing Phil Murphy can do to make headlines as a change agent.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:19 am

I would not hold my breath on retroactive funding -- where is the money going to come from? The proposed millionaire tax will raise only about $1B a year and there will be tremendous pressure to put all that into the pension hole. Pot legalization and its tax revenues are at least an year or two away. Jacking up taxes on businesses is a sure way to lose revenue in the long term by scoring a few millions in the short term. Once the new administration is in they will discover that NJTransit's operating budget for this year is at least 20-50 million short of what is needed to actually complete the fiscal year (end of June 2018). The capital budget, especially PTC is years behind. While things will get better, I would not expect for there to be any immediate improvements, just stabilization of service at current levels, with hopefully better funding for maintenance, so breakdowns and cancellations go down. I hope you are right and I am wrong, but I doubt it ...
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:31 pm

Bonds. That's how Cuomo is paying for his building spree in New York. Renovated airports, new bridges, subway enhancements, etc. Immediate gratification, spread over decades of paying it back. But, sometimes that's needed. Especially when you've underspent for years, causing the system to go into a state of bad repair and not getting done the incremental improvements to meet demand.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby Hawaiitiki » Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:56 pm

EuroStar wrote:I would not hold my breath on retroactive funding -- where is the money going to come from? The proposed millionaire tax will raise only about $1B a year and there will be tremendous pressure to put all that into the pension hole. Pot legalization and its tax revenues are at least an year or two away. Jacking up taxes on businesses is a sure way to lose revenue in the long term by scoring a few millions in the short term.


Don't forget about taxing Sports Gambling. I am no Chris Christie fan, but at least he has progressed in his drive to legalize sports gambling. Will likely be legal in NJ in the next 6 months, albeit still being protested by the major sports leagues, whose old excuse was "Nevada has no professional sports teams, so lets keep it in Vegas". Gone is that excuse cough Las Vegas Knights (NHL) cough Las Vegas Raiders (NFL)
Double Track, Grade Separate, and Electrify America!
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:10 pm

At the Oct 16 NJT Board Meeting a representative from the Lackawanna Coalition spoke against the Newark Draw project, which frankly surprised me. I appreciate the fiscally conservative approach, especially in light of the many other projects that NJT needs to complete, but I don't agree with the seeming consensus of the group that Newark Draw should not move forward. http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/2017_10_11_OpenSess.pdf

My thoughts:

- Newark Draw is 114 years old. While it's useful life is far from over, it will become more and more expensive to maintain. In 2009 the bridge underwent a $23 million dollar rehabilitation project. The next rehabilitation project to further extend the bridge's life will likely cost much more. I view it as trying to keep an old car alive. For some time, you reap the rewards of a paid off car with minor maintenance expenditures. But, eventually, the cost to maintain far exceeds any benefit of keeping the car. Which brings me to my next point.
- Newark Draw's useful life at current service levels, on a perfect day, is also adequate--as noted. However, how often does NJT experience a perfect day? Locomotives breaking down, trespasser strikes, catenary issues, police activity, etc., all cause system backups. In many cases, the severity of the delays could be greatly reduced by removing bottlenecks in the system, to allow trains to get around the afflicted area. On a two track road, if a train breaks down or is held around Newark Draw, the railroad becomes a one track road. And, as a Newark Broad Street commuter, I can tell you that happens with surprising frequency. It's just unacceptable for the service levels of that area during rush hour, when trains roll through every few minutes or less. Which brings me to my next point.
- One of the reasons cited against the need for a third track is that current service levels and proposed service levels don't require three tracks (on a perfect day). Well, that's just giving NJT Management an excuse to not increase service! Once the entire Gateway project is complete, NJT *could* increase the frequency of MidTown Direct service AND provide WORMs a one seat ride to New York Penn. Of course, that's assuming the operational capacity is also increased, but with a new political climate and hopefully a renaissance in transit funding, I do believe that some of that is plausible. However, if NJT is fought hard against replacing the bridge and adding a third track, and they decide to cancel this proposal, then they'll continue to point at this bottleneck as an operational deficiency, and an excuse to not increase peak service levels.

To argue that the money for this project should be spent on light rail for, cough, SOUTH JERSEY, is stunning. I do agree that NJT should be focused on "state of good repair" projects, like fixing the concrete retaining walls and bridges system wide. However, I think both Newark Draw and the state of good repair project can move forward. It's likely more than 5 years that Newark Draw will, umm, draw significant money from the capital budget. So, get the state of good repair projects going now while the draft plans, environmental assessments, community outreach, etc, for Newark Draw take place.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby EuroStar » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:20 am

Unfortunately the Lackawanna Coalition is really a few residents of Morris and Essex counties who have their own agenda which pretty much translates into looking for their own self interest at all times at the expense of everyone else. I am glad that they do not appear to have as much influence as they seem to ultimately desire.
This is most obvious in the total disregard of the needs of the passengers of the former Erie lines: Main, Bergen, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley. For example, they are against the filling of the Long Slip canal and the creation of six extra tracks. Given that since the start of Midtown Direct service ridership on the M&E to Hoboken has cratered, it is not surprising that the Lackawanna Coalition thinks that more tracks at Hoboken are useless. Of course it is the M&E trains that gum up Hoboken when there is an issue at Penn. Similarly they are against the Secaucus Loop. They got their direct service to Penn, why should they care about direct service to Penn for Bergen County residents? Let those "other people" (e.g. not Us) change at Secaucus at the cost of 15 minute trip penalty, while most M&E trains zip express without even stopping at Secaucus.

The actual replacement of the Newark Draw is unlikely to begin before 2035. The money just approved is money for conceptual design. We still need a preliminary engineering design, engineering design and then actual construction which is where most of the money is. The people commenting on this project (as well as the people voting on it) are unlikely to take even one trip over the replacement as it is really far into the future.

I believe that you are correct in focusing on the flexibility and increased reliability and robustness that removing the bottleneck provides. That is what this project is about. It happens that the narrow two track segment is mostly a movable bridge, but yes, the bridge itself can last at least another 50 years without maintenance and at least 200 years with proper maintenance. The delays that can happen in its vicinity are horrendous though. They might not happen frequently, but when they do they tend to be bad. Part of the issue is that Broad and Harrison interlockings are not universal by themselves limiting certain routings. Unfortunately the commenters do not seem to understand that. They focus solely on the movable bridge, or the additional undergrade bridges over the streets in Harrison and then complain about the costs.
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Re: M&E Capacity Improvements (Dreams, Not Reality)

Postby time » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:44 pm

EuroStar wrote:The actual replacement of the Newark Draw is unlikely to begin before 2035. The money just approved is money for conceptual design. We still need a preliminary engineering design, engineering design and then actual construction which is where most of the money is. The people commenting on this project (as well as the people voting on it) are unlikely to take even one trip over the replacement as it is really far into the future.


By 2035 I'll be looking forward to retiring in another 23 years. Let's get that bridge replaced. I've got time. :-D
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