• Derailment in Paulsboro

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by Ken W2KB
Tommy Meehan wrote:Below is a link to a photo chuchubob shot in 2006 that pretty clearly shows the A-frame structure. The bridge is a swing span I believe so I don't understand exactly what role the A-frame plays.

http://chuchubob.rrpicturearchives.net/ ... ?id=357001

This time of the year the bridge probably almost never has to be opened but to close a moveable bridge over a waterway requires U.S. Coast Guard permission. Barring specific information I wouldn't assume the bridge has been restored without being able to open. It's certainly a possibility, though.

Tommy, in looking at the chuchubob and the Google map aerial photos, with the bridge in the open (good for boats) position, it appears to swing from a pivot at one end, not in the center of the span as is typical. So the A-frame and cables in tension are needed to hold the span when not in the closed position. Highly likely that the Coast Guard issued a temporary waiver of the regs to allow for train movement. Would have to check the Federal Register for an official notice of such.
  by Tommy Meehan
They did establish a safety zone for boaters around the bridge.
TEMPORARY RULE: The Coast Guard is establishing a safety zone one mile north and one mile south of the East Jefferson Street Railroad Bridge, Mantua Creek, Paulsboro, New Jersey, due to a train derailment resulting in the release of hazardous materials into Mantua Creek and the surrounding air.
This is in effect until January 13, 2013 ( http://jimscfr.wordpress.com/2012/12/18 ... ts-121812/ ) so Conrail might have at least until then to repair the moving parts.

There's a video on Youtube that shows the bridge opening (back when there was still a bridge tender assigned). The video was shot from the bridge so you see the bridge opening but you don't really see how. They do state as Ken mentioned that the moveable span is suspended on one end by the A frame and pivots on the other end.

  by chuchubob
Steve F45 wrote:news12 reported a train went across earlier today [Tuesday].
At least four trains crossed the bridge Sunday afternoon and night (before midnight). The media were unaware. Both local papers (Philadelphia Inquirer and Camden Courier-Post) on Monday had articles stating that trains would resume crossing the bridge within a couple days.
  by Tommy Meehan
The U.S Coast Guard has cancelled the safety zone in Mantua Creek, one mile north and one mile south of the site of the East Jefferson Street train derailment (MSIB-24-12). Mantua Creek is now open to vessel traffic up to the East Jefferson Street Railroad Bridge. The railroad bridge remains in the fixed position and cannot be opened to vessel traffic at this time. - Captain K. Moore, U.S. Coast Guard
This was posted Monday on a Marine Safety bulletin board ( http://www.macdelriv.org/mb.php?source=1&lim=30 ) as per the Coast Guard commander with jurisdiction over the area. Sounds like the moving portion of the bridge is not working. I wonder when it might be restored, but I expect at some point it will be.

I also learned that several years ago New Jersey requested that a nearby drawbridge, Crown Point Rd, be changed from "open on demand" to "requires four hours advance notice." The figures New Jersey supplied showed that from December through March there were no boaters using the waterway, that is, the bridge never had to be opened in these months. During the summer months there were as many as eighty openings per month. However the Coast Guard -- which is pretty zealous in protecting navigation rights -- turned New Jersey down.

So I think Conrail will eventually have to restore Mantua draw to working order.
  by snavely
The USCG, while definitely being insistent on preserving navigation rights, also takes a realistic approach in situations like this. They will give Conrail a reasonable amount of time to make whatever repairs are necessary and restore the bridge to normal operation. The fact of the matter is the timing of the accident, from the CG's perspective, was perfect: right at the start of the season in which marine traffic on the creek is non existent, thus there is no need for the agency to bust chops and demand that the bridge be made operational right away. Now if CR spins its wheels and the bridge isn't ready to be back in operation by early March or so, then the CG's attitude will change, big time. However, for the next 60 days or so, as long as they are satisfied that CR is making appropriate progress, the CG won't get on their case. If the CG perceives that progress is not being made, though, life will become quite unpleasant for the railroad people involved.
  by Tommy Meehan
While the NTSB is still investigating to determine the cause, Conrail has made a decision about the Paulsboro bridge. And it won't be popular with local boaters.
“The decision was made, that repairing and replacing the bridge would take about the same amount of time so we made a decision to replace,” Conrail spokesman Michael Hotra said. Hotra said the replacement bridge will be open "by September 2014...”
The Penns Grove Secondary handles quite a bit of traffic, It's no sleepy branch line, and it will remain open to trains.

Click here to read a brief local news story.

  by Tommy Meehan
According to this report in NJ.com the NTSB has apparently determined a probable cause of the derailment.
It was determined that the bridge was not in the fully closed and locked position at the time of the accident, which could have caused the cars to go off the track. The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Looking at area photos there are about twenty-five small boats docked nearby. Some of them seem small enough that they might possibly be able to get under the draw even in the closed position. Or they could be moved by trailer to another location. Maybe at Conrail's expense?
“The November 30 Paulsboro derailment and subsequent restoration of service made the Mantua Creek bridge’s draw function inoperable,” said Mike Hotra, a spokesman for the rail company....Conrail has reached out to the slip owners, local marinas and other boaters who will be impacted, Hotra said.
That seems possible. Local officials had already given Conrail a lot of credit for being proactive and reaching out to the community and being willing to quickly process legitimate claims.

Here's another, more detailed news report on this latest development.

  by snavely
I don't think any of those boats will be able to fit under the bridge in the closed position. From US Coast Pilot, Volume 3 (Sandy Hook, NJ to Cape Henry, VA):

"Mantua Creek, Mile 78S, passes on the east side of Paulsboro and meanders southeastward to the vicinity of Mantua, 7.6 miles above the mouth. There is waterborne traffic in chemicals and paper to the first bridge; above which the creek is used only by small boats.(299) The Mantua Creek entrance jetties are marked by lights, and the entrance channel is marked by buoys.
(See Local Notice to Mariners and latest editions of charts for controlling depths.) (300) The ConRail bridge 1.3 miles above the mouth has a 32-foot-wide swing span with a clearance of 1 foot. "

One foot of clearance at high tide won't allow anything bigger than a kayak to pass underneath, and then only if the occupants are able to somehow lie down inside it. CR is going to have to provide alternate dockage for all of those boats someplace else nearby, plus pay the current marinas for the loss of business from the relocated boats. Sounds like the marina owners are going to get a two year fully paid vacation and the boat owners are going to be greatly inconvenienced having to travel to wherever the new docks are. In addition to providing replacement dockage, CR will probably also have to pay them for the inconvenience and added travel to the new place.
  by Tommy Meehan
Mantua Creek is probably one of those places that if you know it, it's a nice place to go boating. As an outsider, well....

I did a Google search out of idle curiosity, The first hits were two news articles about the Creek. One was about some kind of oil leak in the Creek that boaters discovered. They discovered it when they found the bottoms of their boats were covered with oil. The other article was about a car that wound up in the creek and police finding the occupant still inside having drowned.

I did find a blog about kayakers who love Mantua Creek. One of them said though, sad to say, several storm drains empty into Mantua Creek and he recently found a rusted office chair floating along.

I am surprised though, unless Conrail plans on rebuilding the bridge "in kind." They might have to make some of the parts, in fact I think they said that the last time they had a problem. That they couldn't just order parts. September 2014 is eighteen months away. That's a long time to rebuild a bridge. I have looked at a variety of sources, wondering if it was a typo if it is actually Sept. 2013 but all the news stories say Sept. 2014.
  by Jersey_Mike
I hope the new bridge will also be an A-Frame. Does anyone know of any such bridges in existence?
  by Tommy Meehan
There's some A-frame railroad bridges in existence but I don't know if they're still in common carrier railroad use. Apparently there were a number of A-frame bridges on the California Western. Some of those are probably still in service but nowadays it's a tourist line. It operates as the Mendocino Railway.

Btw I know this is off-topic but does anyone know anything about boating on Mantua Creek? The creek isn't very long and with a powerboat you could probably navigate the whole thing in minutes. The people who keep boats at the marina east of the bridge do they primarily use it to access the Delaware River? The Delaware seems pretty commercial in that area but I guess on a summer Sunday it might be fun. Someone's doing it, there are several hundred bridge openings during summer months.
  by ThirdRail7
Freddy wrote:
wolfboy8171981 wrote:The truth is slowly coming out. This bridge has been automated since around 2001. There are no indications in the dispatcher office for this bridge, Bridgeport, and Darby. In 2009 a bridge supoport on the fixed span collapsed. But even before then a train encountering a stop siginal at a closed bridge was a common occurance.

Rule 241 (d)
Stopped at a Signal Protecting Moveable Bridge
Under the following conditions, a qualified employee must determine that the rails are properly lined and
the bridge is safe for movement before verbal permission is given to pass the signal:
1. When the signal cannot be displayed for the first movement over a bridge after the bridge has been
closed, regardless of bridge lock indication.
2. At any time a bridge unlock indication is received.

For the last 11 years the carrier insisted that a conductor was a qualified employee.
The bridge I was on was manned from 6am till 10pm. The timetable said that outside normal hours of operation bridge would be lined for rail movement and crews encountering a red signal
would make a walking inspection to make sure the lift rails were in proper position before calling the dispatcher for permission to proceed.
I'd bet real money this derailment is behind the change in the interpretation of this rule on Amtrak. Effective 3/11 when an inspection of a moveable bridge is required under 241d, the inspection must be performed by a qualified engineering department employee.
  by Tommy Meehan
That sounds like a pretty good rule.

Conductor on a train when there's a bridge problem. How they heck are they supposed to know if the bridge is fully locked by walking it? Sounds like, "Well nothing's ever happened so far!"

But what about Conrail? Are they adopting the same rule?
  by RDG467
I was reading this http://www.nj.com/gloucestercounty/inde ... lment.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

on NJ.com and wondered if construction is far enough along to allow for any decent pix? This was posted on July 4th, so I'm thinking they've only been doing earthwork. Sounds like it will be a bascule-style bridge and I'm guessing it will be just north of the current A-frame. Can anyone confirm/deny my suppositions?
  by glennk419
Trainlawyer wrote:The NTSB has spoken. Do I dare say Conrail screwed up or will someone start claiming that I must be anti-Conrail?

http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/ind ... nders.html

They screwed up. There, we both said it.

In a bit of irony, I just happened to check Google Maps today and the home signals for the bridge have actually been removed vs. just turning the heads. I can only guess this was done to keep the media and other less informed parties from blaming the incident on signal failure since the boards are obviously not needed right now for a locked and straight railed bridge. The relay cabinet and CP PAUL signs remain though for eventual return to service.
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