North River Tunnels

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North River Tunnels
NJT NEC enters Hudson Palisades.jpg
Western portal at Bergen Hill
Overview
Line Northeast Corridor
Location Hudson Palisades-Hudson River
Coordinates 40°45′31″N 74°00′45″W / 40.7585°N 74.0125°W / 40.7585; -74.0125Coordinates: 40°45′31″N 74°00′45″W / 40.7585°N 74.0125°W / 40.7585; -74.0125
System Amtrak and NJ Transit
Start Secaucus Junction in Secaucus (NJT); Newark Pennsylvania Station in Newark (Amtrak)
End Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, New York City
Operation
Opened November 27, 1910; 103 years ago (November 27, 1910)[1]
Owner Amtrak
Traffic Railroad
Character Passenger
Technical
Design engineer Charles M. Jacobs
Construction 1904-1908
Length 14,575 feet (4,442 m)[2]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrified Third rail and Overhead lines
Lowest elevation 100 feet (30.5 m) below Hudson River, 175 feet (53 m) below Bergen Hill[3]
Grade 1.30% in Weehawken, 1.923% in Manhattan[3]
North River Tunnels is located in New York City
North River Tunnels
North River Tunnels

The North River Tunnels carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rail lines under the Hudson River between Weehawken, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, New York City. Built between 1904 and 1908 by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and opened for passenger service in late 1910, the tunnels allowed Pennsylvania Railroad trains to reach Manhattan.[4]

Design and construction[edit]

Construction of the northern tube under the Hudson River in 1905

Led by Chief Engineer Charles M. Jacobs, the tunnel design team worked between 1902 and 1904. The first task was digging two shafts, one just east of 11th Ave in Manhattan and a larger one a few hundred yards west of the river. The Weehawken Shaft was completed in September 1904 as a concrete-walled rectangular pit, 56 by 116 ft at the bottom and 76 ft deep. The PRR awarded the North River contract to O'Rourke Engineering Construction Company, which began work upon completion of the two shafts. (At the time, "North River Tunnels" referred to the tunnels east of the Weehawken Shaft; in later years the term has come to include the Bergen Hill tunnels as well.) The tunnels were built with drilling and blasting techniques and tunnelling shields,[5] digging west from Manhattan, east and west from Weehawken, and east from the Bergen portals. The two ends of the northern tube under the river met in September 1906; at that time it was the longest underwater tunnel in the world.[3][6] In 1905 the John Shields Construction Company received the contract to bore through Bergen Hill, the lower Hudson Palisades;[7] William Bradley took over in 1906 and the tunnels to the Hackensack Meadows were completed in April 1908.[8][9]

The tunnels' west portals are in North Bergen, at the west edge of the New Jersey Palisades near the east end of Route 3 at U.S. Route 1/9 (40°46′17″N 74°02′31″W / 40.7714°N 74.0419°W / 40.7714; -74.0419). They run beneath North Bergen, Union City, and Weehawken, to the east portals at the east edge of 10th Avenue at 32nd St in Manhattan. (Since 1968 the east portals have been hidden beneath 450 West 33rd Street (WNET headquarters) on the east side of 10th Ave.) When the top of the Weehawken Shaft was covered is a mystery; the two tracks may have remained open to the sky until catenary was added circa 1932.

Except for a curve west of the west end of Pier 72 that totals just under a degree, the two tracks are straight 37 feet (11 m) apart, from west of 11th Avenue to the Bergen Hill portals; the tunnels are so straight that one can theoretically look down the tunnel and see the other side.

Although the tunnel is powered by third rail, the third rail ends just west of the Bergen Hill portals.[10]

Operation[edit]

Since 2003 the tunnels have been operating near capacity during peak hours.[2] Trains ordinarily travel west (to New Jersey) through the north tube and east (to Manhattan) through the south. During the morning rush about 24 trains are scheduled through the south tube in the busiest hour, and the same through the north tube in the afternoon.

New tunnel project[edit]

The Access to the Region's Core project to build a set of parallel tunnels began construction in June 2009 to supplement the North River Tunnels, but that project was canceled in October 2010 by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie due to budget constraints. On February 7, 2011, Amtrak announced that it would spend $50-million on preliminary engineering and design work for a new tunnel project called Gateway, estimated to cost $13.5-billion.[11]

Damage from Hurricane Sandy[edit]

As with several tunnels under the East River, one of the North River Tunnels were flooded by the unprecedented storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. This was the first time either the North River or East River Tunnels were flooded.[12]

See also[edit]

1907 exposition display showing cross-section of North and East River railroad tunnels
North River Tunnels, 1910s (Manhattan side)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guide to Civil Engineering Projects In and Around New York City (2nd ed.). Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009. p. 58. 
  2. ^ a b Belson, Ken (2008-04-06). "Tunnel Milestone, and More to Come". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  3. ^ a b c "'Pennsy's' North River Tunnel a Marvel of Skill; Bores Meeting Head-on Under the River Only an Eighth of an Inch Out of Alignment and Three-fourths of an Inch Out of Grade" (PDF). The New York Times. September 9, 1906. 
  4. ^ * Cudahy, Brian J. (2002). Rails under the mighty Hudson: The Story of the Hudson Tubes, the Pennsy Tunnels and Manhattan Transfer. Hudson Valley Heritage Series (2nd ed.). New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-2189-X. 
  5. ^ Hewett, B.H.M. (1912). "The North River Division". History of the Engineering Construction and Equipment of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's New York Terminal and Approaches. New York: Isaac H. Blanchard Co. pp. 35–53. 
  6. ^ "Meeting of the Pennsylvania Tunnel Shields". The Railway Age (Chicago: Wilson Co.) 42 (12): 355. 1906-09-21. 
  7. ^ "Penn. Tunnel Award". The New York Times. March 14, 1905. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  8. ^ "Final Blast Opens Pennsylvania Tube". The New York Times. April 9, 1908. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  9. ^ "Another Tube Through". The New York Times. April 11, 1908. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  10. ^ http://www.thelirrtoday.com/2014/03/interlocking-walkthrough-bergen.html
  11. ^ "Senators propose tunnel linking New York and New Jersey". BBC. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  12. ^ Frassinelli, Mike (November 8, 2012). "Transportation update: Amtrak to reopen flooded Hudson River rail tunnel". The Star Ledger. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]