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TREVITHICK'S FLANGEWAY TURNOUT OF 1803

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RAILROADING THE RIGHT WAY

In planning for new railroad construction it is necessary to plot the shortest, most direct route possible. Doing so serves the aim of utilizing the compact ribbon of high-capacity transportation afforded by modern railroads with the utmost efficiency. Thus configured, railroads can be used to unrivalled advantage for connecting important transit and transport hubs with ample low-cost capacity and a high degree of directness, especially in situations where development along the way offers potential for local service. As the devising and laying out of important high-volume arteries where it is undesirable that great multitudes requiring transit or transport of something should be inconvenienced by unnecessary delay, railroad planning must seek to avoid any planned possibility of conflict with uninterrupted service, including where possible, movable bridges, and particularly grade crossings - as currently found in extreme abundance on rail lines in the United States. The wholesale building of "street running" rail lines and grade crossings in the post-war and current era is an "accident" of policy and "conventional wisdom" with daily consequences extending beyond just delay. Railroads being built in the streets is an anachronism. This "solution" is not real: it is a racket lacking in requisite benefits to the public.
 

Railroads can be categorized into three sub-groups: dense-city passenger lines with close stops, trunk, and extended intercity lines, and others including pleasure railways and industrial, connecting and mining operations. They have been around for about 200 years in their present form without changing much in their basic mechanical functioning except for propulsion and braking. The system developed early on for directing cars or wagons from one track to another has been highly refined, and is unparalleled in it's facile efficiency versus other forms of railed or guided conveyance, with switching now possible on curves at extremely high speed. Looking forward, the means of propulsion and braking will be greatly enhanced with advent of linearly induced magnetic propulsion, thus eliminating the constant maintenance requirements of wheel wear due to locked-wheel skids. Absent constant maintenance, square wheels impose extreme untimely wear on rails, ties and roadbed, and on elevated structures and their underpinnings - to say nothing of the noise and vibration experienced within a wide radius. An increasing number of carriers worldwide now choose linear induction technology for their steal-wheel-on-rail passenger operations, with gradually increasing top speeds - starting with the Detroit People Mover in 1987.
 

A common misconception about railroads is that High Speed Rail can justify its construction by merely providing high speed passenger service between two points without having to bother with local service or freight. The promoting of this view by the ignorant well healed entrepreneurs and highly educated planners and regulators comprising the "rail cognoscenti" (regarding some of them - I'm not calling them liars - but they're not telling the truth) is likely to have debilitating consequences etched in stone and steel of essentially permanent duration. High Speed Rail alone can never justify the cost of construction, and a rail line must have multiple uses through a good part of it's length to do so. Duplicativeness, intrusiveness and expense of building a whole new line to handle traffic bound for the same place, where none already exists and widening of the existing one is possible, is counterproductive - though building what is essentially a second line for purposes of abbreviation, with multiple uses, may have manifold and overwhelming advantages. So whether the contemplated line is intended to use existing right-of-way or be totally new, arrangements must be made with the freight carriers - who after all stand to benefit from any improvements - for joint use of the properties. Today however, multiple uses of rail lines is fiercely and unanimously opposed at every level of railroad planning, regulating, management and ownership.

The posts at the Facebook page RAILROADING THE RIGHT WAY, many of them lifted from conversations at Facebook page HIGH SPEED RAIL AMERICA CLUB, give a further idea of my thoughts and beliefs on railroads, and their planning. Also see: RAIL-NYC-ACCESS.COM


Bruce W. Hain - March 18, 2017

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HELL GATE BRIDGE

CENTENNIAL!

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THE HELL GATE BRIDGE OPENED FOR SERVICE 100 YEARS AGO MARCH 9

Engineer Gustav Lindenthal, who designed this first substantial through-arch bridge, is at center with his chief construction engineer Harold W. Hudson to the right past Othmar Ammann, who later designed the George Washington Bridge. Library of Congress: Chief Engineer Lindenthal (center, no hat) and his team, including at his right, his assistant Othmar Ammann, pose with the nearly finished bridge. Ammann would go on to an illustrious career designing bridges as well, and the efforts of these two men resulted in ten of the best known bridges connecting New York to the rest of the world. Many of these bridges set records when built, pushing the boundaries of engineering and advancing bridge design around the world.

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FOUR TRACKS SEEN FROM THE TOWER ON WARDS ISLAND

Close to realization, four-track lines are rarely seen today and even less on bridges.

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HELL GATE BRIDGE SUPPORTS TRAVERSE BUCOLIC WARDS ISLAND

Parcelled out for new development. Section over Little Hell Gate

at upper right is under construction. (click to enlarge)

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ARCH UNDER CONSTRUCTION

ARCH NEARING COMPLETION

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FOUR SKEWED DECK TRUSS SPANS OF REVERSE PARABOLIC BOWSTRING ARCHES

Must be seen! At Little Hell Gate - now filled-in between the two once-separate

islands. The supports at the ends with the chess piece capitals are perpendic-

ular to the bridge; the supports inbetween are skewed, and hence,

placement of the arches under either side of the bridge.

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EARLY AERIAL PHOTO TAKEN OVER ASTORIA

The Astoria Elevated Line, opened the same year,

is in the foreground. Wards Island is at center,

Little Hell Gate to the right.

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