AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
Paper No. 1150
THE NEW YORK TUNNEL EXTENSION OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD.
By Charles W. Raymond, M. Am. Soc. C. E.[A]
Some time before the appointment of the Board of Engineers which supervised the designing and construction of the New York Tunnel Extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the late A. J. Cassatt, then President of the Company, said to the writer that for many years he had been unable to reconcile himself to the idea that a railroad system like the Pennsylvania should be prevented from entering the most important and populous city in the country by a river less than one mile wide. The result of this thought was the tunnel extension project now nearly completed; but it is only in recent years that new conditions have rendered such a solution of the problem practicable as well as desirable.
Previously a tunnel designed for steam railroad traffic, to enter New York City near Christopher Street, was partly constructed, but the work was abandoned for financial reasons. Then plans for a great suspension bridge, to enable all the railroads reaching the west shore of the North River to enter the city at the foot of 23d Street, were carefully worked out by the North River Bridge Company. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company gave this project its support by agreeing to pay its pro rata share for the use of the bridge; but the other railroads declined to participate, and the execution of this plan was not undertaken.
New operating conditions, resulting from the application of electric traction to the movement of heavy railroad trains, which had been used initially in tunnels by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and was subsequently studied and adopted by railroads in Europe, made it possible to avoid the difficulty of ventilation connected with steam traction in tunnels, and permitted the use of grades practically prohibitive with the steam locomotive. The practicability of the tunnel extension project finally adopted was thus assured.
The acquisition of the control of the Long Island Railroad by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, which occurred in 1900, introduced new and important elements into the transportation problem, from a freight as well as a passenger standpoint. Previously, the plans considered had for their only object the establishment of a convenient terminus in New York, to avoid the delays and difficulties involved in the necessity of transporting passengers and freight across the North River. When the Long Island Railroad became practically a part of the Pennsylvania System, it was possible and desirable to extend the project so as to provide, not only for a great prospective local traffic from all parts of Long Island, but also for through passenger and freight traffic to the New England States, and to and from all points on the Pennsylvania System, thus avoiding the long ferriage from Jersey City around the harbor to the Harlem River.
This paper has for its subject the New York Tunnel Extension project, and is intended merely as an introduction to the detailed accounts of the construction of the various divisions of the line to be given in succeeding papers prepared by the engineers who actively carried out the work. The project, however, forms the most important part of the comprehensive scheme adopted by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for conducting its traffic into and through New York City, and a brief description of this general plan is therefore necessary in order that the relations of the tunnel line to the other parts of the transportation project may be clearly understood.
General Plan for Traffic Facilities at New York.
The component elements of the general plan outlined by the late A. J. Cassatt, President, in his open letter to the Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners of the City of New York, dated January 18th, 1906, are indicated on Fig. 1, and may be briefly summarized as follows:
1.—The Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad, generally referred to as the New York Tunnel Extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad. This line begins near Newark, N. J., crosses the Hackensack Meadows, and passes through Bergen Hill and under the North River, the Borough of Manhattan, and the East River to the large terminal yard, known as Sunnyside Yard, in Long Island City, Borough of Queens, New York. The line will be more fully described elsewhere.
2.—The electrification of the Long Island Railroad within the city limits.
3.—The Pennsylvania freight terminal yard and piers at Greenville, N. J., connecting by ferry with the Bay Ridge terminal of the Long Island Railroad.
4.—The Bay Ridge Improvement of the Long Island Railroad from East New York to Bay Ridge.
5.—Yards for increasing the freight facilities in the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
6.—The Atlantic Avenue Improvement in Brooklyn, involving the removal of the steam railroad surface tracks and the extensive improvement of the passenger and freight station at Flatbush Avenue.
7.—The New York Connecting Railroad, extending through a part of the Borough of Queens and crossing the East River by a bridge at Ward's and Randall's Islands to Port Morris, N. Y.
8.—The Glendale Cut-Off of the Long Island Railroad.
9.—New piers and docks in Newtown Creek at its confluence with the East River.
10.—Electrification of the United Railroads of New Jersey Division from Newark to Jersey City.
The parts sustained by these elements in the work of transportation and distribution are briefly as follows:
The New York Tunnel Extension is essentially a passenger line, although the Company has not only the legal powers but also the facilities for making it a through route for freight if desired. It will transport passengers to and from the centrally located station at 33d Street and Seventh Avenue in New York City, joining the Long Island System at Sunnyside Yard, and, by means of the New York Connecting Railroad, it will form a link in the through traffic line, connecting the whole Pennsylvania System with the New England States. This line has been designed for the safe and expeditious handling of a large volume of traffic. The requirements include handling the heaviest through express trains south and west from the main line as well as the frequent and lighter local-service trains. For through service the locomotive principle of operation has been adhered to, that is, electric locomotives will take up the work of the steam locomotives at the interchange yard at Harrison, N. J., and, for excursion and suburban service to nearby towns, provision will be made for electric locomotives, or by operation of special self-propelled motor cars in trains, the project being planned to give the greatest flexibility in method of operation to meet the growing demand in the best way.
The New York Connecting Railroad has important functions both for freight and passenger service. When constructed it will be about 12 miles long, and will form a part of the line to the New England States for through passenger and freight service, and also carry local freight to and from Sunnyside Yard and