WR Draw

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WR Draw
WR Draw Passaic River (North Newark-West Arlington).tiff
View from North Newark to West Arlington
Coordinates 40°46′36″N 74°09′00″W / 40.7766256°N 74.1500386°W / 40.7766256; -74.1500386Coordinates: 40°46′36″N 74°09′00″W / 40.7766256°N 74.1500386°W / 40.7766256; -74.1500386
Carries New York and Greenwood Lake Railway (1897-1966)
Boonton Line (1963-2002)
Crosses Passaic River
Locale Newark and Kearny
New Jersey
Other name(s) West Arlington Drawbridge,[1]
Bridge 7.57[2]
Owner New Jersey Transit
Preceded by Midland Bridge[3]
Design Swing bridge
Clearance above 40 feet (12 m)[4]
Opened 1897[2]
Closed 2002
WR Draw is located in New York City
WR Draw
WR Draw
Location within New Jersey

WR Draw is an out-of-service railroad bridge crossing the Passaic River between Newark and the Arlington section of Kearny, New Jersey. The plate girder rim-bearing swing bridge, originally built in 1897 and modified in 1911 and 1950,[2] is the 14th bridge from the river's mouth at Newark Bay and is 8.1 miles (13.0 km) upstream from it.[4] Last used for regular passenger service in 2002, it is welded in closed position as its height is not considered a hazard to navigation.[4]

The lower 17 miles (27 km) of the ninety mile (140 km) long Passaic River downstream of the Dundee Dam is tidally influenced and navigable.[4] Rail service across the river was generally oriented to bringing passengers and freight from the points west over the Hackensack Meadows to Bergen Hill, where tunnels and cuts provided access terminals on the Hudson River.

An alignment crossing the river at Arlington and North Newark was part of a grander scheme developed in the 1860s by the New York, Oswego, and MIdland Railroad to runs lines from Jersey City into northern New Jersey and beyond to Western New York, also opening up new areas for suburban development (including Belleville,[5] just north of the current bridge's western end). Originally, the plan called for incorporating the Montclair Railway which had been established in 1867.[6] Ultimately that plan was scuttled as a route was established farther north connecting to the New Jersey Midland Railway and Hudson Connecting Railway.[7]

Nonetheless, expansion on the Montclair Railway continued and a right-of-way (ROW) over the river was established circa 1872-1874,[7][8][9] The WR Draw's predecessor was known as the Midland Bridge,[3] a name recalled in Midland Avenue which descends from Passaic Street to the former West Arlington Station.[10] The line ran between Sterling Forest at the New York state line to Croxton, Jersey City. The financially unstable Montclair Railway went into receivership, and in 1875 became the Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railway[6][7] In 1878 the company was re-organized as the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway (NYGL), under control of Erie Railroad.[11]

In 1887, the Erie created a new subsidiary, the Arlington Railroad, to create a new ROW in the Kearny Meadows which ran more directly to the WR Draw once the line had passed through the Long Dock Tunnel and crossed the Hackensack River.[6][12] In 1889, in opened the DB Draw over the river, providing the company a modernized ROW from its Pavonia Terminal for use by both the NYGL and the Newark Branch, which crossed the Passaic on the NX Bridge at the southern end of Kearny. Within Erie, the NX was known as Bridge 8.04, which indicated the number of miles from the Jersey City waterfront terminal.[13] The WR Draw was known as Bridge 7.57.[2]

In the mid-1890s, the Erie greatly expanded the infrastructure and service on the Greenwood Lake, taking over the Watchung Railway in 1895 and the Caldwell Railway and the Roseland Railway in 1897,[6] the former becoming the Orange Branch[14] and the latter two, the Caldwell Branch. The WR Draw was modified in 1911[2] when the Erie opened a new tunnel-cut, the Bergen Arches, in Jersey City, creating the Penhorn Creek Railroad to run through it and make connections to its lines on the west side of the Hudson Palisades.[6][15] The bridge was again modified in the 1950s when New Jersey Route 21 was constructed under its west end.[2]

Substructure modified to accommodate NJ Route 21, which passes underneath bridge on west bank

In 1943, in a major re-organization, the New York and Greenwood Lake as well as other subsidiaries were absorbed into the Erie.[16] In 1960 the Erie and the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western (DL&W) merged, consolidating at Hoboken Terminal. In 1963, in conjunction with the construction of Interstate 80 in Paterson, the combined Erie Lackawanna Railroad's Boonton Line was rerouted over the WR Draw.[2][17]

View to West Arlington

Service over the bridge was diminished in phases. Numerous station were taken out of use and the mainline was retracted in 1935. By 1966 service on the New York and Greenwood Lake was terminated. In 1976, the Erie-Lackawanna was taken over by Conrail which continued to run Boonton Line trains over the bridge. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations (NJT) took over Conrail's commuter lines in 1983. With the 2002 opening of the Montclair Connection,[18] NJT re-routed the Boonton Line to its Montclair Branch east of Montclair,[19] thus bypassing the ROW to the bridge. Service was discontinued to Rowe Street, Benson Street and Arlington stations.[18] DB Draw over the Hackensack River in was also taken out of use and left in the open position.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 117.739(j)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Solomon, Brian (2008), North American Railroad Bridges, Voyageur Press, ISBN 9781610604581 
  3. ^ a b "Rowing on the Passaic Newark Oarsmen have a Fine Course", The New York Times, April 20, 1890, retrieved 2012-02-19 
  4. ^ a b c d "Lower Passaic River Restoration Project Commercial Navigation Analysis" (PDF). United States Army Corps of Engineers. July 2, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  5. ^ "The Midland Railroad and its New Jersey Connections - What Has Been Done and Present State of the Enterprise", The New York Times, retrieved 2012-05-30 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Erie Railroad" (PDF). Inventory June 1918. June 30, 1918. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  7. ^ a b c Olsen, Kevin. "A Short History of the New York and Greenwood Lake Railroad". msuweb.montclair.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  8. ^ Krasner, Barbara (2000). Images of America: Kearny. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738504032. 
  9. ^ Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project, New York, NY (2008). "Chapter 5.2: Historic Resources." Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Section 4(f ) Evaluation.
  10. ^ "GeoHack - West Arlington (Erie Railroad station)". GeoHack. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  11. ^ "The Montclair Railway.; Handed Over To The New-York And Greenwood Lake Company". The New York Times. December 18, 1878. 
  12. ^ "New Branch of the Erie", The New York Times, March 23, 1887, retrieved 2012-06-06 
  13. ^ "Bridge 8.04". Erie Railroad Magazine. December 1948. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  14. ^ "Railroad Facilities A new branch which will benefit New Jersey people", The New York Times, November 16, 1880, retrieved 2012-06-06 
  15. ^ "Penhorn Creek Railroad". War of Yesterday. http://rails.jimgworld.com. January 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-20.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ "Erie Gets Jersey Line". New York, New York: The New York Times. 1942-07-02. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  17. ^ Winshop, Donald (December 17, 2009). "The Montclair-Boonton Line Evolves". The Lines that we represent. Lackawanna Coalition. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  18. ^ a b "Rail Shuttle Buses To Transport Commuters Affected By Station Closures". Newark, New Jersey: New Jersey Transit. August 27, 2002. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  19. ^ "The Montclair-Boonton Line" (PDF). Newark, New Jersey: New Jersey Transit Rail Operations. 2002. Retrieved 20 February 2010.