Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. LXVIII, Sept. 1910 The New York Tunnel Extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Paper No. 1150
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
Paper No. 1150
THE NEW YORK TUNNEL EXTENSIONOF THEPENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD.
By Charles W. Raymond, M. Am. Soc. C. E.[A]
Some time before the appointment of the Board of Engineers whichsupervised the designing and construction of the New York TunnelExtension of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the late A. J. Cassatt, thenPresident of the Company, said to the writer that for many yearshe had been unable to reconcile himself to the idea that a railroadsystem like the Pennsylvania should be prevented from entering themost important and populous city in the country by a river less thanone mile wide. The result of this thought was the tunnel extensionproject now nearly completed; but it is only in recent years that newconditions have rendered such a solution of the problem practicable aswell as desirable.
Previously a tunnel designed for steam railroad traffic, to enterNew York City near Christopher Street, was partly constructed, butthe work was abandoned for financial reasons. Then plans for a greatsuspension bridge, to enable all the railroads reaching the west shoreof the North River to enter the city at the foot of 23d Street, werecarefully worked out by the North River Bridge Company. The PennsylvaniaRailroad Company gave this project its support by agreeingto pay its pro rata share for the use of the bridge; but the otherrailroads declined to participate, and the execution of this plan wasnot undertaken.
New operating conditions, resulting from the application of electrictraction to the movement of heavy railroad trains, which had beenused initially in tunnels by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and wassubsequently studied and adopted by railroads in Europe, made itpossible to avoid the difficulty of ventilation connected with steamtraction in tunnels, and permitted the use of grades practically prohibitivewith the steam locomotive. The practicability of the tunnelextension project finally adopted was thus assured.
The acquisition of the control of the Long Island Railroad by thePennsylvania Railroad Company, which occurred in 1900, introducednew and important elements into the transportation problem, from afreight as well as a passenger standpoint. Previously, the plans consideredhad for their only object the establishment of a convenientterminus in New York, to avoid the delays and difficulties involvedin the necessity of transporting passengers and freight across theNorth River. When the Long Island Railroad became practically apart of the Pennsylvania System, it was possible and desirable to extendthe project so as to provide, not only for a great prospective local trafficfrom all parts of Long Island, but also for through passenger andfreight traffic to the New England States, and to and from all pointson the Pennsylvania System, thus avoiding the long ferriage fromJersey City around the harbor to the Harlem River.
This paper has for its subject the New York Tunnel Extensionproject, and is intended merely as an introduction to the detailedaccounts of the construction of the various divisions of the line tobe given in succeeding papers prepared by the engineers who activelycarried out the work. The project, however, forms the most importantpart of the comprehensive scheme adopted by the Pennsylvania RailroadCompany for conducting its traffic into and through New YorkCity, and a brief description of this general plan is therefore necessaryin order that the relations of the tunnel line to the other parts of thetransportation project may be clearly understood.
General Plan for Traffic Facilities at New York.
The component elements of the general plan outlined by the lateA. J. Cassatt, President, in his open letter to the Board of RapidTransit Railroad Commissioners of the City of New York, datedJanuary 18th, 1906, are indicated on Fig. 1, and may be briefly summarizedas follows:
1.—The Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad, generallyreferred to as the New York Tunnel Extension of the PennsylvaniaRailroad. This line begins near Newark, N. J., crosses the HackensackMeadows, and passes through Bergen Hill and under the North River,the Borough of Manhattan, and the East River to the large terminalyard, known as Sunnyside Yard, in Long Island City, Borough ofQueens, New York. The line will be more fully described elsewhere.
2.—The electrification of the Long Island Railroad within the citylimits.
3.—The Pennsylvania freight terminal yard and piers at Greenville,N. J., connecting by ferry with the Bay Ridge terminal of the LongIsland Railroad.
4.—The Bay Ridge Improvement of the Long Island Railroad fromEast New York to Bay Ridge.
5.—Yards for increasing the freight facilities in the Boroughs ofBrooklyn and Queens.
6.—The Atlantic Avenue Improvement in Brooklyn, involving theremoval of the steam railroad surface tracks and the extensive improvementof the passenger and freight station at Flatbush Avenue.
7.—The New York Connecting Railroad, extending through a partof the Borough of Queens and crossing the East River by a bridge atWard's and Randall's Islands to Port Morris, N. Y.
8.—The Glendale Cut-Off of the Long Island Railroad.
9.—New piers and docks in Newtown Creek at its confluence withthe East River.
10.—Electrification of the United Railroads of New Jersey Divisionfrom Newark to Jersey City.
The parts sustained by these elements in the work of transportationand distribution are briefly as follows:
The New York Tunnel Extension is essentially a passenger line,although the Company has not only the legal powers but also thefacilities for making it a through route for freight if desired. It willtransport passengers to and from the centrally located station at 33dStreet and Seventh Avenue in New York City, joining the Long IslandSystem at Sunnyside Yard, and, by means of the New York ConnectingRailroad, it will form a link in the through traffic line, connectingthe whole Pennsylvania System with the New England States. Thisline has been designed for the safe and expeditious handling of a largevolume of traffic. The requirements include handling the heaviestthrough express trains south and west from the main line as well asthe frequent and lighter local-service trains. For through service thelocomotive principle of operation has been adhered to, that is, electriclocomotives will take up the work of the steam locomotives at the interchangeyard at Harrison, N. J., and, for excursion and suburbanservice to nearby towns, provision will be made for electric locomotives,or by operation of special self-propelled motor cars in trains, the projectbeing planned to give the greatest flexibility in method of operation tomeet the growing demand in the best way.
The New York Connecting Railroad has important functions bothfor freight and passenger service. When constructed it will be about12 miles long, and will form a part of the line to the New EnglandStates for through passenger and freight service, and also carry localfreight to and from Sunnyside Yard and Brooklyn, and all points onLong Island. By means of this line it will be possible to make theBrooklyn station at Flatbush Avenue a station on the through Systemfor New England as well as the Western States.
The initial equipment of the Western Division of the Long IslandRailroad for electric traction has been made in advance of the opening ofthe tunnel line in order to take care of the requirements of the AtlanticAvenue improvement. This improvement involved the eliminationof grade crossings within the City of Brooklyn and the conversion ofthe railroad line which was previously on the surface of the streets topart subway and part elevated line from the Flatbush Avenue Terminalto East New York Station, a distance of 5-1/4 miles. One of the requirementsof this improvement was that the motive power should bechanged to some form of power not involving combustion. This ledto the adoption of electricity, and, in order to meet operating necessities,involved the electrification of connecting lines beyond the improvementproper, so that local service could be handled to the end of theruns without changing the motive power. The extent of the electrificationthus required was found to be about 100 single-track miles.This extensive electrification work was undertaken and completed inthe summer of 1905, upon the completion of the Atlantic Avenueimprovement proper, and since that time has been in successful operation.On the near approach of the construction of the New YorkTerminal improvement, plans for additional electrification on the LongIsland Railroad were made, and the work is now in progress on theextensive additions required to couple up the tunnel extension withthe various lines centering at the Long Island City terminus.
The Bay Ridge Improvement of the Long Island Railroad comprisesthe readjustment of the right of way and the establishment of newgrades in order to do away with grade crossings from the freightterminal at Bay Ridge to a junction with the New York ConnectingRailroad at East New York, a distance of 10.4 miles. It also providesfor the re-location of the line and the elimination of grade crossingson the branch running to Manhattan Beach, a distance of 3.7 miles.The work is being executed without interrupting traffic, and in allabout 75 grade crossings will be abolished. This improvement becamenecessary in order to provide for the rapid extension of population intothe suburban districts and for the present and future requirements ofthe section, to establish municipal conveniences and facilities, andto open additional streets across the right of way. To accomplishthese ends, the line has been built in cuts and on embankments, therebeing about 6.4 miles of the former, 3.3 miles of the latter, and atunnel, 3,500 ft. long, where the line crosses the Atlantic Avenueimprovement.
The Atlantic Avenue improvement, as mentioned above, involvedthe removal of the railroad tracks from the street surface for a distanceof about 5-1/4 miles. This was done by constructing a series of elevatedand subway structures, there being about 2.1 miles of the former, 2.4miles of the latter, and 0.8 mile of approaches, eliminating more than90 grade crossings. In the light of recent developments, it may be ofinterest to note that one of the reasons for establishing a combinationelevated and subway line was that, at the time the improvement wasprojected, no underground railroad in the country, of similar lengthand carrying a heavy volume of local traffic, was operated by electricity,and public sentiment was against the operation of the entire length ofthe line underground by steam power. This improvement also providedfor depressing the entire Flatbush Avenue station and a freightyard. As the work progressed, the original plans for the station weregreatly enlarged, the remodeled station covering about 61 city lots.
The main point of passenger distribution is the New York station.Other important stations will be Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; Jamaica,Long Island, where the changes to and from electric motive power willbe made; and Newark, N. J. Many other places, including the seasideresorts on Long Island and in New Jersey, will feel the benefitsof the direct tunnel railroad into and through New York City. TheGlendale Cut-Off will materially shorten the route and running timefrom New York through the tunnels to Rockaway Beach.
The plans contemplate that passengers to and from the lower partof Manhattan will be carried by the steam line between Newark andJersey City and cross the North River by ferry or the Cortlandt Streettunnels of the Hudson Company. Eventually, the old main line willbe electrified and supersede the steam service between Newark andJersey City.
The Greenville Yard is the most important point for the receipt,transmission, and distribution of freight. From this point freight canbe transported, without breaking bulk, by a comparatively short car-ferryto the Long Island Railroad terminus at Bay Ridge, and thus avery large part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's floatage inNew York Harbor and the East River will be abolished, the floatagedistance being reduced in the case of the New England freight fromabout 12 to 3 miles. This traffic will be routed from Bay Ridge viathe Long Island Railroad to a connection with and thence over theNew York Connecting Railroad to the New York, New Haven andHartford Railroad at Port Morris, N. Y.
As the facilities for the handling of freight in the Boroughs ofBrooklyn and Queens had become insufficient for taking care of theprospective traffic, eleven new local delivery yards, having a combinedarea