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Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
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ClydeDET
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Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« on: Feb 20th, 2012, 9:39pm »
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The new Galveston lift bridge has the towers in place an the bridge itself (over 1500 tons of steel and such) has been completed on-shore and is being fitted to the towers. Story at  
 
http://galvestondailynews.com/story/291394/
 
Additional pictures at
 
http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/local/120214-galvestons-used-rail-bridge-moving-to-california
 
The old bridge is being dismantled and moved to California, for use by SMART to replace a 109 year old swing bridge across the Petaluma River.
 
Quite a job. Looks like it will be a few months before the old bridge is taken out of service as the connection to the new track doesn't seem to have been completed yet (going to have to build a diversion, sort of a pemanent shoo-fly) and apparently the completion and in use target is June 1. Presume the old bridge wll be dismantled at that point. And moved to Cali...  
 
Looks like you'll need to cut and paste the links.


« Last Edit: Feb 20th, 2012, 9:41pm by ClydeDET » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #1 on: Feb 22nd, 2012, 2:02am »
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The bridge being replaced is just southeast of Petaluma Calif.  This is on a piece of the old Northwestern Pacific which is being resurrected as a commuter line.  An attempt to get enough signatures to put a proposition on the ballot to stop it just failed.  
 
The existing NWP bridge is really decrepit.  It is strange as well.  It does not turn 90 degrees to open, but a little over 45 degrees only.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #2 on: Feb 22nd, 2012, 9:29pm »
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One of the stories i saw said the cuirrent swing bridge is repairable, but would have tio be replaced after another 20 years, so better to just replace it.
 
The current bridge at Galveston is NOT the one installed when the causeway was built after the big storm of 1900, but rather a more modern, lighter, and narrower (no two tracks and a two lane highway like the original - just a single rail line). Can't recall when it was installed, but seems like only about 20 years ago, maybe mid-90s.


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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #3 on: Feb 23rd, 2012, 3:35pm »
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Yeah, I knew this new Galveston bridge was not the original.  In fact, you can see in the aerial views that it was built offline from the original.  I am guessing that the current replacement will be back on the original alignment of at least one of the tracks.  
 
This whole operation, both the 20 plus years past and the current replacement look to me like two outstanding examples of short-sightedness.
 
First, if the channel width makes the navigation interests so unhappy that the bridge is being replaced now, they were probably unhappy with it when the current drawspan was put in place, the longer span should have been put in place then.
 
Second, given the increasing traffic and congestion on I-45, Houston to Galveston is approaching being a prime candidate for a commuter/interurban type service.  When this finally slaps enough people in the face, all concerned will recognize the need for restoration of the second track across the bridge.  Easy to do for the rest of the structure as the space for the second track is still there, but to do a complete job another bridge replacement will be needed.
 
The GH&H alignment is near straight.  It just need beaucoup grade separations and a second track throughout to run a fast frequent service.


« Last Edit: Feb 23rd, 2012, 3:43pm by George_Harris » Logged
ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #4 on: Feb 23rd, 2012, 6:46pm »
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George, the new lift bridge (with over 300  - make that 382 feet, with a 300 foot channel - feet of moveable span) involves a removal, once it is in place, of about 140 feet of the existing masonry/concrete structure on each side of the existing channel, with an extension to change alignment on each side of the opening. There are a couple of articles (which i have seen, but don't have the  citations for) that show what was planned. I'll see if i can find them.
 
Whenever it was the orginal moveable bridge was replaced, i suspect that there just wasn't enough money in the till to do the big thing - I'm pretty sure it was done by the railroads to replace a structure that was likely deteriorated from salt-air exposure and inadequate care for three-quarters of a century, while the new one was 95% funded by the Coast Guard as a navigation safety improvement. Don't ask why the Coast Guard budget and not the Corps of Engineers who usually do navigation things. Or at least don't ask me, cause I dunno.
 
I reckon if they ever do commuter rail to Galveston, they'll just have to real with a bottle neck at the lift bridge. Bet they won't add a second structure.
 
From the overhead pictures, it looks like there won;t be any real sharp diversions to the new span, so I guess they can double track the road bed on each side and maybe have a gantlet track to avoid switches across the lift bridge.  You'd know better if that is a practical solution (if mperfect)


« Last Edit: Feb 23rd, 2012, 7:37pm by ClydeDET » Logged
ehbowen
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #5 on: Feb 24th, 2012, 9:30pm »
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When I was a young railfan thirty or so years ago I spent many hours exploring the old bridge. No pictures, unfortunately, but I remember it well. It was a Scherzer rolling lift bridge with two through tracks and a two-lane wooden vehicle deck. There had originally been a third track for the Galveston-Houston interurban, but all traces of that were long gone by 1980. The draw span was definitely sized for two tracks, not three, so either the electric railway switched onto the regular tracks for the span or else it shared the roadway. By 1980 the second regular railroad track had been lifted as well, although you could still see the remnants of it on the draw span. The replacement span installed around 1990 was built on the line of that removed second track, which explains the "crook" to and from it on the current line. It appears that the new vertical lift span will be installed back on the original through alignment as it existed in 1980.
 
Bridge designers in 1912 didn't anticipate 102" wide semitrucks with 53 foot trailers. The roadway was very narrow; I want to say between 18 and 20 feet wide total. At the time I first began exploring the bridge it was still theoretically possible to drive across it, although in practical terms you probably had to be a railroad employee. There were gates at each approach but they were seldom locked and the roadway was still passable throughout although overgrown by weeds. However, the bridge was (and still is) normally kept open unless a train was crossing...and the auto traffic control gates had been removed, so if it was foggy or if you weren't paying attention it was entirely possible to drive right off into the drink! (Wouldn't the lawyers be all over that one today!) Unfortunately, though, one foggy night (and it was a night that I had been there on the bridge) a barge loaded with acrylonitrile collided with the lowered draw span and exploded. The resulting fire destroyed the wooden auto deck (which was never rebuilt) and put the draw span out of service for several weeks. Although the original span continued to serve for about ten more years, I think that the damage it took that night was a major factor in the eventual decision to replace it. Other factors would have been the aging machinery and control systems.
 
I found this site with some good information and pictures about the history of the bridge. If you will look closely at the photos of the old bridge you will see that the bridge tender's control room was expanded, probably in the early 30's or so. That would coincide with the installation of a new interlocking machine (still in use in 1980) which consolidated what had previously been three separate interlocking towers (Island, Lift Bridge, and Virginia Point...the abandoned shell of the Virginia Point tower was still standing in 1980).  


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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #6 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 1:43am »
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on Feb 24th, 2012, 9:30pm, ehbowen wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 The roadway was very narrow; I want to say between 18 and 20 feet wide total.

If that wide, it was probably a little more than just two lanes.  
 
If I remember right, when the Harahan bridge was built at Memphis, the two lanes each side were no more than 16 feet wide, in other words, 8 foot lanes.  That bridge was built in 1917, maybe.  I am having memory troubles on dates tonight.  Therefore, I would not be surprised to find that the roadway for the Galveston bridge was not more than 16 feet wide.  
 
Just for reference, the standard highway lane was 9 feet in the 1920's and 10 feet beginning in the 1930's.  In the 1950's there were still many miles of 18 feet wide two lane in the country, which included my home base in West Tennessee.  When we  crossed the state line, though Mississippi highways had 10 feet lanes, as Mississippi did not start a general program of paving highways until the 1930's.  (When we moved out from Memphis into DeSoto County MS in 1952, outside the town streets, the only paved roads in the county were the US numbered highways.)
 
Found some information, a brief Historic American Engineering Racord report.  In it is says the original draw span was 120 feet  between bearing to give a 100 feet clear channel.  In there is said 66 feet clear, but I do not think that applied to the draw span.  It also said the draw span was replaced in 1988.  I would guess probably the same bearing to bearing distance.  Only about 70 years old is relatively young for a railroad bridge, but a lifetime acquaintance with salt water probably did not do it much good.


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ehbowen
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #7 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 9:52pm »
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Quote:
I would not be surprised to find that the roadway for the Galveston bridge was not more than 16 feet wide.

 
Sixteen feet may well be correct. I drove a smaller car back then. I still remember marveling at how narrow the roadway was considering that it used to host two-way traffic. By the way, it also used to carry a pipeline with Galveston's only supply of fresh water, under the roadway. A newer pipeline was laid sometime in the late 20th century, but the old pipeline was kept in service as a backup. About ten years back this old line sprung a major leak; there was some discussion as to whether to repair or decommission it. The decision was made that it was still valuable as a backup, so it was repaired with new pipe run above roadway level...which is why the newer pictures of the bridge show a visible pipe line running along the side of the roadway.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #8 on: Feb 25th, 2012, 11:07pm »
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When we lived in Texas City, the only vehicle Causeway was the one built in the late 1930s, which  had a two-leaf draw in the middle, offering the same 100 foot channel as the old 1912 Causeway. I can recall at least two occasions when it got hit by barges and was closed for repairs, meaning all vehiclular traffic to and from the Island was on the old bridge (this was in the 1950s).  Even then the vehicle road wsa not maintained and hadn't been for over a decade and was - not in good condition. And was indeed very narrow, making on-coming traffic very close. And having a train cross with you made things seem tighter.  
 
Wish I had pictures of that. I know one of those closings of the "regular" Causeway was  while I was in the 3rd grade, so would have been 1951 or 1952; I think it was probably in the fall of '51).


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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #9 on: Jun 17th, 2012, 12:52am »
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The old bridge has now arrived in California.  I have not seen it, but it was posted on trainorders.  Disasembled and loaded into 14 gondola cars.  The bridge being replaced is a very decrepit swing span.

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ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #10 on: Jun 23rd, 2012, 8:33pm »
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And the new bridge is operating at Galveston. It is not on the line of the old causeway at all, being aligned on the northern edge with the rail lines diverting across to the new alignment (which required an expansion of the fixed structure at each end), a considerable kink. Would be interesting to see an employee timetable for speed restrictions across the causeway (presume any restrictions are from one end to the other). The barge operators on the Intra-Coastal Waterway will like that 300 foot wide channel through the bridges a lot better. But It wouldn't surprise me to see somebody drive a tow (they call them tows even though they are pushed) into the one of the bridge towers, or at least the protective dolphins.

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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #11 on: Jun 23rd, 2012, 9:40pm »
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Quote:
But It wouldn't surprise me to see somebody drive a tow (they call them tows even though they are pushed) into the one of the bridge towers, or at least the protective dolphins.

 
Me either, Clyde.  Sooner or later it happens, seemingly no matter how long the span.  One thing I ran into a few years back was the terminology invoved.  It seems that a ship or barge tow does not collide with a bridge or other fixed object, it allides with it.
 
It seems that when a vessel runs into a fixed object it is an Allision under maritime law.  For it to be a collision, both vessels must be moving.


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CHESSIEMIKE
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #12 on: Jun 24th, 2012, 6:43am »
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George, are you sure of the spelling of these terms: allides & Allision? I only ask because my spell check & look up can't find them. Not the first time I have run into this with my computer, but wanted to double check. Thanks,
CHESSIEMIKE


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ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #13 on: Jun 24th, 2012, 10:04pm »
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Yep, he got them right:
 
ALLISION, maritime law. The running of one vessel against another. It is distinguished from collision in this, that the latter means the running of two vessels against each other; this latter term is frequently used for allision.  
 
from: A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856. via The Free Dictionary by Farlex.
 
Also in the old copy of Black's Law Dictionary I've had ever since i started law school in 1971. One of the few law books I kept when i closed the office.
 
 


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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #14 on: Apr 2nd, 2013, 8:35pm »
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Maybe this should go in a thread on the SMART transit system, but since it involved the Galveston Bridge, I will put it here.
 
The following is from their 2010-2011 Annual Report,  
http://www2.sonomamarintrain.org/userfiles/file/Measure%20Q%20Annual%20Report%20FY10-11.pdf
 
Quote:
SMART BRIDGES
 
SMART spent $1.6 million in 2011 on design work for major bridges within the IOS, including the Novato and Gallinas Creek bridges in Marin and the Haystack Bridge over the Petaluma River. As part of the cost cutting measures adopted in 2011, the SMART Board included a decision to retrofit the Haystack Landing Moveable Bridge over the Petaluma River instead of replacing it. It was estimated that replacing the 107] year]old swing span movable bridge would cost roughly $30]35 million, while rehabilitation was estimated at $20 million. As such, SMART initiated a scoping evaluation of the Haystack Bridge to clearly define the rehabilitation effort and began preliminary design efforts.
 
During this evaluation and leading into FY11]12, SMART staff discovered another option; purchasing a slightly used, single]leaf rolling railroad bascule bridge (Draw Bridge) from Galveston, Texas for reuse in Petaluma, instead of rehabilitating the existing bridge. This single leaf bascule bridge was erected in 1986 and was assessed to be in very good condition. Acquiring the Galveston bridge has several benefits over rehabilitating the existing Haystack Bridge: the maximum train speed over the bridge goes up from 10 to 40 m.p.h.; the useful life of the bridge goes from 20 years to 80 years; the river channel widens from 55 to 87 feet; the superstructure of the bridge goes from a low fender protection system to more substantial gpile clustersh to protect from a barge impact. All of these improvements will be achieved with the Texas bridge for the same price as retrofitting the existing Haystack Bridge.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #15 on: Apr 4th, 2013, 10:19pm »
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That is interesting, George. And explains why the decision (doubtless a good one) was made.

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George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #16 on: Sep 9th, 2013, 3:46pm »
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Just wondering what was happening on installation of the Galveston bridge over the Pentaluma River as part of the SMART commuter line in California.  The answer is nothing yet and the latest information does not say anything about when it is planned to do so.  The bridge was apparently unloaded from the gons and is stored at Napa.  Here is a link to the most recent news article I could find on the subject.
 
http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2013/03/transportation/smart-work-progressing-in-santa-rosa-expanding-in-marin-county/
 
The relevant couple of sentences:
 
Quote:
It probably will be reassembled there (at Napa) and floated by barge to the bridge site, though SMART has yet to pick a contractor for the work, so some details remain uncertain.
The replacement bridge cost about $4 million and will take about $16 million to install.

 
Also in the article was information that about 15 miles of track and 6 bridges have now been constructed/reconstructed.  The bridges obviously do not include this one.  
 
As usual there is a fairly well opposition to the whole thing and it got quoted in the article.  The comments on the article were all anti's.  


« Last Edit: Sep 9th, 2013, 3:51pm by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Galveston Rail Bridge - New one being installed
 
« Reply #17 on: Nov 21st, 2013, 2:01pm »
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I am going to start a new thread to continue with the bridge move and a few other things since the subject is getting away from, literally a couple thousand miles away from, Galveston.  
 
It will be titled SMART - Sonoma Marin transit on ex NWP.
 
The contract for installation of the Galveston Bridge on the SMART line has now been let.  It is referred to as the Haystack Bridge and is over the Petaluma River at Petaluma CA.
 
A schedule was not in the press release announcing the letting of the contract.  Just as a guess, if you want to see the bridge in place for its new life you will need to wait a couple of years.


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