Hell Gate Bridge
|Hell Gate Bridge|
|Carries||Amtrak Northeast Corridor rail line (2 tracks); CSX Transportation/Canadian Pacific (Delaware & Hudson) freight rail line (1 track)|
|Crosses||Hell Gate of the East River|
|Locale||Queens and the Bronx in New York City via Randall's and Wards Islands|
|Engineering design||Harold W. Hudson|
|Design||Through arch bridge|
|Total length||17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km)|
|Width||100 feet (30.5 m)|
|Longest span||978 feet (298 m)|
|Clearance below||135 feet (41.1 m))|
|Fabrication by||American Bridge Company|
|Opened||September 30, 1916|
The Hell Gate Bridge (originally the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge) is a 1,017-foot (310 m) steel through arch railroad bridge between Astoria in the borough of Queens, Randall's/Wards Island (which are now joined into one island and are politically part of Manhattan), and The Bronx in New York City, over a portion of the East River known as Hell Gate.
The Hell Gate Bridge runs parallel to the Queens span of the RFK-Triborough Bridge, which connects Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, and drivers can see the length of the bridge east of the roadway.
The great arch bridge is the largest of three bridges that (along with more than 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km) long of approach spans and viaducts) form the Hell Gate complex. An inverted bowstring truss bridge with four 300-foot (91.4 m) spans crosses the Little Hell Gate (now filled in); and a 350-foot (106.7 m) fixed truss bridge crosses the Bronx Kill (now narrowed by fill).
Construction was overseen by Gustav Lindenthal, whose original design left a gap of 15 feet (4.6 m) between the steel arch and the masonry towers. Fearing that the public assumed that the towers were structurally integral to the bridge, Lindenthal added aesthetic girders between the upper chord of the arch and the towers to make the structure appear more robust. The original plans for the piers on the long approach ramps called for a steel lattice structure. The design was changed to smooth concrete to soothe concerns that asylum inmates on Wards and Randall's islands would climb the piers to escape.
The engineering was so precise that when the last section of the main span was lifted into place, the final adjustment needed to join everything together was 1/2 inch (12.7 mm). Construction of the Hell Gate Bridge began on March 1, 1912 and ended on September 30, 1916. It was the world's longest steel arch bridge until the Bayonne Bridge was opened in 1931, and was surpassed again by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
In 1996 the bridge received a facelift, including its first comprehensive paint job in 80 years. It was painted "Hell Gate Red," a dark, natural red. The bridge would be the last New York City bridge to collapse if humans disappeared, taking at least a millennium to do so, according to the February 2005 issue of Discover magazine. Most other bridges would fall in about 300 years.
The bridge originally carried four tracks, two each for passenger and freight, but one freight track was abandoned in the mid-1970s. At one time, all tracks were electrified with the 11 kV, 25 Hz overhead catenary, the standard of NH and PRR. The passenger tracks have been electrified since 1917, and the freight tracks from 1927 to 1969. (See Amtrak's 25 Hz traction power system.)
Some passengers paid to use the bridge; some fares over the bridge were higher than the usual fares for the same mileage. In September 1940 coach fares were two cents a mile, so Boston to New York was $4.60, the same to Grand Central Terminal or to Penn Station. But Boston to Washington, D.C. was $10.00 instead of the expected $9.10; for a few decades after 1920, 90 cents was added to all fares via Hell Gate except tickets to New York itself. In April 1962, New Haven to New York cost $3.43, New York to Philadelphia cost $3.91, and New Haven to Philadelphia was $8.24. (1962 fares do not include federal tax, then 10 percent.)
The bridge is used by Amtrak and by some CSX, Canadian Pacific, Providence & Worcester Railroad, and New York and Atlantic freight trains. The Metro-North Railroad's Train to the Game services (Operated by New Jersey Transit, from main stations on the New Haven Line to Secaucus Junction) also use the bridge since September 2009 on every Sunday 1pm NFL game. The bridge and structure are owned by Amtrak, part of its Washington, D.C. to Boston electrified main line known as the Northeast Corridor. The bridge is also part of the New York Connecting Railroad, a rail line that links New York City and Long Island to the North American mainland.
In September 2009, Metro-North revived its planning efforts aimed at using the Hell Gate Bridge to connect its New Haven Line to Penn Station. Such a service would terminate at Penn Station on platforms freed up by the planned completion of the Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access project scheduled for completion in 2016. The environmental assessment and a Penn Station operations study were planned for completion in 2011.
See also 
- Oak Point Link (connecting rail line in the Bronx)
- Schneider, Daniel B. (March 19, 2000). "F.Y.I.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
- Gruson, Lindsey (November 30, 1991). "Long Unlucky, Rail Bridge Hits $55 Million Repair Jackpot". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
- The arch is 1087.5 feet measured center to center of the concrete towers.
- "Sydney Harbour Bridge repainting" (PDF). NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Anderson, Steve. "Hell Gate Bridge". NYCRoads. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- Weisman, Alan (February 2005). "Earth Without People: What would happen to our planet if the mighty hand of humanity simply disappeared?". Discover. Retrieved 2006-11-06.
- New York Times, 20 December 1951. p33.
- Silberstein, Judy (September 24, 2009). "Football Fans Take New Train to the Game". Larchmont Gazette. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- "Penn Station Access Study". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
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