Metro North Rail line faces fines over bridge delays

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Terminal Proceed
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Metro North Rail line faces fines over bridge delays

Post by Terminal Proceed »

November 14, 2006, 7:53 AM EST
GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) _ Coast Guard officials say the Metro-North rail line could be fined tens of thousands of dollars for delaying boaters.

The Coast Guard is considering the fines against the rail commuter line which is being accused of illegally delaying boaters seeking to pass under the Mianus River drawbridge in Greenwich.

In the past, a lengthy hearing process for complaints and $1,100 maximum fine did little to force Metro-North to comply with federal regulations, Gary Kassof, bridge program manager for the 1st Coast Guard District said. But new laws now permit the Coast Guard to fine violators up to $15,000 per incident, Kassof said Monday.

We may recommend something less, but we do have that hammer," Kassof said.

Commercial boaters on the river have complained for years that the channel sometimes is impassable to waterborne traffic for up to an hour.

Boaters claim that Metro-North's drawbridge operators let trains cross but fail to raise the span's two arms for vessels waiting below.

A Coast Guard hearing officer is expected to decide within about two months whether to levy fines on Metro-North.


Information from: Greenwich Time,

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Post by L'mont »

Oh, thats a great idea, lets tie up essential travel for a hundred thousand people a day just so that one Joe Blow can go sport fishing!!

I bet those same morons take MNRR to work during the week!!!

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Post by kitn1mcc »

they also have done the same thing to Amtrak at Conn river and Thames river

Non Commercial Traffic is not the issue

it is commercial traffic
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Noel Weaver
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Post by Noel Weaver »

I seriously doubt if there is much commercial traffic at Cos Cob. There
might not even be any at this point in time.
In my opinion, it is not at all fair for a few recreational boaters to tie up
thousands of commuters and other travelers on one of the busiest rail
corridors anywhere in the country.
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Post by Clean Cab »

There is almost NO commercial traffic on the Mianus River!! Over 99% of all boats that require Cob Bridge to be opened are pleasure crafts. It drives me wild when I have to sit a a stop signal with a train load of paying passengers so some zillionaire can take a spin in his boat!!!

But sadly Coast Guard regulations clearly state that river traffic MUST have any designated drawbridge opened within 20 minutes of making a request 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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Post by Pbolo714 »

Isn't fjord fisheries considered commercial? I believe they are the chief complainer. It is a charter operation not a commercial fishing vessel. does it matter??

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Rules of the road.....

Post by amtrakhogger »

As it was explained to me, priority at a rail/boat crossing goes to the
boats. As for Rail/road crossing the priority is for trains. Why?
Supposedly the idea is that in history boats came before trains and trains came before the automobile. It sounds simple, first come, first served.

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Post by grabber »

Background and Purpose

The Metro-North Bridge, mile 1.0, across the Mianus River has a
vertical clearance of 20 feet at mean high water and 27 feet at mean
low water in the closed position.
The existing operating regulations in 33 CFR 117.209 require the
bridge to open on signal from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., immediately for
commercial vessels and as soon as practicable, but no later than 20
minutes after the signal to open is given, for the passage of all other
vessel traffic. When a train scheduled to cross the bridge without
stopping has passed the Greenwich or Riverside stations and is in
motion toward the bridge, the draw shall open as soon as the train has
crossed the bridge.

So where is the problem? The regulation is very plain as to bridge openings. Vessels on navigable waters are superior.

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Post by Alcochaser »

Special exception needs to be made for these bridges. The benefit to thousands of commuters far outweighs the benefit to a few boaters. One Government agency fining another government agency is SUPER grey area anyway.

Personally I would like to see MNRR make a point one day, and not open the bridges the entire day, then the next day, these boaters would be gratefull at a slight delay.

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Post by RedSoxSuck »

How hard would it be to schedule in specific times that the bridge can be opened, incorporate this schedule into the MNR and Amtrak schedules, and publish it for the Coast Guard? Why the hell should a boat get to pass whenever they damn well please? I say just give them a list of time windows, and if they miss the "slot," then they are just as screwed as Amtrak is when it misses its time slots!

Also, is MNR under any obligation to operate the movable bridges? (Come to think of it, probably if they are low enough) But if they are not under any obligation, then they should just threaten to convert then to fixed bridges.

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Post by Nasadowsk »

The boaters were there first. Don't like it, go build under the water or move the rail line somewhere else.

(hey, it works for train noise complaints...)

No, MN can't convert the bridges to fixed, and can't sit on their butts and not open them. The Coast Guard has the authority to declare a bridge a 'navigation hazzard' and order it removed. Like it or not, the RR does NOT have a 'free run' over the water.

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Post by RearOfSignal »

Is this 20 min rule, just a Connecticut thing? I think the Broadway Bridge has a sign saying that 4(?) hour advance notice is required to move the bridge. Then again that bridge is used for NYC Subway service as well as road traffic, maybe the rules are different.

Does the Coast Gaurd set the rules in place or is it the state?

I haven't noticed any such sign on the Harlem River Viaduct or the Empire Connection at Spuyten Duyvil.

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Post by Nasadowsk »

I'm pretty sure it's the Coast Guard who makes the rules up, though they can be flexible. Also, I'm not sure if commercial/private makes a difference. Theoretically, the operator's supposed to open in an emergency, which likely means something like a ship/barge that can't stop in time, etc.

If a bridge doesn't open enough, or is on a waterway that's no longer used for certain things, the owner can petition to have it bolted down, I'm pretty sure the one by 125th street is (effectively) bolted down).

And they're not picking on the RR here - highways that have bridges have to open up, too.

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Post by Tadman »

Since I haven't seen the legislation, or know which body created it, that enables the coast guard to implement the 20 minute regulation, I can't be sure about my statements here. However, an equal or higher legislative or judicial body may repeal or re-legislate this issue, and implement a bridge opening schedule. If commercial traffic isn't strong on the river anymore, nobody will throw the money behind the opposition and MN/Cdot would prevail. Noel is very correct in pointing out public policy would demand the convenience of 800 people on a train going to/from work over ten people on a yacht participating in a leisure-time activity.
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Post by RedSoxSuck »

Wouldn't it be sweet justice if a train gapped out and got stuck on the CosCob bridge when some ahole in a yacht is waiting for the bridge to be lifted? I know, it would mean a fine for MNR and the passengers being delayed, but I would still laugh at the jerks in the boat.

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