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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metro-North closes its only moveable bridge in New York State for major upgrade


Yesterday, MTA Metro-North Railroad's Harlem River Lift Bridge closed to marine traffic for the next six months so crews can replace 60-year-old cables and install new electrical components to increase resiliency to potential surge flooding.

Located 4.5 miles north of Grand Central Terminal, the railroad bridge connects the island of Manhattan to the Bronx mainland.

"This vital bridge is used by more than 280,000 Metro-North customers on 700 trains each weekday," said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti in a press release. "This project will improve the reliability, efficiency and safety of the bridge, and allow us to meet our obligation to keep the bridge's moving parts moving."

Although there are only six to 10 openings per year as commercial shipping on the Harlem River has steadily declined, Metro-North is obligated by the U.S. Coast Guard to keep the bridge operational. It is the railroad's only moveable bridge in New York State. The Coast Guard granted Metro-North a six-month outage for the cable replacement.

In addition to replacing all of the original cables that lift the two, 340-foot-long, 3 million-pound spans, the project will feature a new electrical control system and wiring, as well as a new third rail power supply system. The new facility house electrical components, which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, will be installed to increase their resiliency to potential storm-surge flooding.

Also, outdated electro-mechanical controls will be replaced and computerized with the installation of a dual-redundant, programmable logic control system. The elevators from the track level up to the operator’s rooms at the counterweight level also will be rehabilitated. New multi-conductor, copper and fiber-optic cables will be pulled through a micro-tunnel under the Harlem River.

The $47 million project is being funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 2010-14 capital program in addition to $24 million in federal grants.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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