Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bridge Protection with Pizazz ...

A very long time reader - back to the days when I posted on a high-brow picture posting site - referred me to another example of extraordinary measures taken to protect a railroad bridge.

This is on State Highway 1, in the vicinity of Marton, New Zealand.

Chris writes me "I used to drive for NZRailways [engineer] and there was one overpass that gave me the creeps on account of the number of "stoopid" truckies down here. the propensity for the truckers to be "tired" around this part of the country. Always worried me that I'd not see the damage until it was to late. Considering the high number of hits and wedges it never happened though but I still worried none the less.

The track approaches to the SH-1 overpass are in open country, and on a downgrade towards the rail junction town of Marton which, with a roll on makes for extra difficulty in getting the train braked for a RED at Marton if you don't get into it early enough. The train is on this overpass before you know it."

I like this bridge protection system better than the Norfolk Southern's  utilitarian approach. This bridge protection system in New Zealand has pizazz ...

I grew curious as to other dangerous clearance railway bridges, and was gobsmacked to find this hair clipper near the Village of Liverpool, just a few miles northwest of Syracuse, New York.

This CSX bridge has an astounding road way clearance of ten feet nine inches (3.27 meters). My van is 6'8", and the Bluebird school bus in this photo is ten foot six, just clearing the bridge by whiskers!

Many vehicles have slammed into this structure.  But it took four lives, when a bus crashed into the structure, to force the State of New York to enact rulings pertaining to the passage of motor vehicles on State Route 370,  banning commercial vehicles. And installing an infra red detection warning system, similar to the one in Durham, North Carolina.

 [Ed Note: This rail line was originally the Syracuse Northern Railroad, opening in 1871. Changing names several times, absorbed into the New York Central RR thence eventually becoming C=Chessie, S=Seaboard, X= multiplier, CSX Railroad.]

Detection systems consist of infrared beams set at the safe clearance. If a vehicle breaks the beam - too high - warning lights are activated.  In the case of the Route 370, a radio signal is sent to the State Police, dispatching an officer to assist in getting the oversize vehicle turned around. And issue a ticket!.

The test is - do they know the height of the vehicle they are driving, and are they paying attention to the warning systems that confront them.

Do you know of a rail bridge lower than this 10'9"?  I'd like to know about it.

See Also:  "11 Foot 8"

3 Comments - Click here:

Andy Rezsnyak said...

I live in Syracuse, and know this bridge well. The bridge, originally put up to cross the Oswego canal. After the canal was filled in, they put a "parkway" in its place, that was lined with tourist junk, with the intention of being only auto traffic.

Sometime in the 40's or 50's all the tourist crap was removed and the entire stretch became part of Onondaga Lake Park.

The state turned the Parkway in to a 4 lane short cut and put a route number on it (this road has no cross roads or anything located on it). Less than 300 feet way to the east, is Old Liverpool Road, loaded with traffic lights, stores, homes and schools. Interestingly enough, the both roads share the same intersections at either end.

The state has banned all "commercial" vehicles from the Parkway. In NY, we have most 1/2 ton pickup trucks licensed as "commercial" vehicles . Depending on what box you check when registering it, you could receive "commercial" tags for it. That means you are banned from driving on the parkway, with your pickup.

At the south end of the Parkway, there is a ramp from interstate 81, and if you are an out of town truck driver, you may end up missing the signs (although up until the Megabus accident, mostly local drivers hit the bridge) and if you get out onto the Parkway, there is no where to turn around except the 4 lanes.

At the north end, just past the sensors, sits a museum, "Saint Marie Among the Iroquois", they get their garbage picked up, the truck trips the alarm. The alarm goes off anytime they get a large truck at the museum.

The large orange reflective stripe under the bridge. You really have to be not paying attention at all since you can see it from the other side of Onondaga Lake, 2-3 miles away, on interstate 690.

We in Syracuse have all heard "Why not lower the road?" Remember when I said it was a canal, the Parkway runs along Onondaga Lake, with in 100'. And during heavy rains, the road floods with standing water, because it only sits about foot and a half above the lake.

We also have heard "Why not raise the bridge?" The the track is already "ramped" up the the bridge on either side. The grade extends to the north to just about the Old Liverpool Road crossing, which is at the same intersection as the Parkway and Old Liverpool Road.

We have also heard "get rid of the bridge, I never see any trains on it" They must not look very hard. The Army base Fort Drum is located on this line as well as being a major line to Canada, for CSX.

Also heard "why not make it a grade crossing?" The bridge is located just a mile or so from the CSX "Water Level Route" main line. Trains are routinely held up, sitting, on the bridge. The lengths of the trains seem to be the distance between the main line and the Old Liverpool Road, crossing and you then would have trains blocking the parkway completely.

We also have a bunch, that want to eliminate all traffic from the Parkway and use it as a hiking/biking/roller blading trail, since they close the Parkway already on Sundays during the summer on Sundays.


Andy Rezsnyak said...

I forgot to mention that, just around the corner id the Susquehanna RR's bridge over West Genesee Street in Syracuse, which is 11'6", gets it fair share of run-ins with trucks trying to pass. Its not marked nearly as brightly as the parkway bridge. One of the last trucks was a livestock truck, carrying cattle, some of them also didn't make it. http://www.9wsyr.com/mostpopular/story/truck-carrying-cattle-hits-bridge/Kc0ZZRlJ7EK92S64Gfi6dw.cspx

Although the bridge (according to RR officials) is safe, it is not nearly as robust as the Parkway, they still use it... It has limestone abutments, with most of the mortar missing, it looks like you could go up and kick the stones out. The bridge also shows the scars of multiple hits. The speed limit through the area is 30 mph with a traffic signal on the west side about 50 feet from the bridge.

The fellas that normally hit this bridge, are from out of town, and are lost. When they built 690, the political geniuses of the time would not let the state put a ramp from 81 south to 690 west, nor a 690 east to 81 north, 81 and 690 are the 2 major freeways in the city and they intersect right in downtown Syracuse. So if you are from out of town, and miss signage, you end up going under this bridge.

Sorry for running long in the jaw.


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Thanks for the interesting info, Andy. The Durham North Carolina NS bridge is usually hit by rental trucks. Obviously renters don't pay attention to the height notices stenciled on the dashboard...

Post a Comment

"Comment" is for sharing information related to this article. "Anonymous" comments are not published.