Poughkeepsie JournalThursday, May 9, 1974
City Railroad Bridge To Be Reopened
After Damage From Fire Is Repaired
700 Feet Of Span Burns
By JIM DETJEN
Journal Staff Writer
Penn Central officials today estimated that it will take four
to six months to repair the Poughkeepsie Bridge. A spectacular
fire Wednesday afternoon destroyed 700 feet of trackway on the
"We have no plans at this time to close down the bridge,"
Joseph Harvey, Philadelphia, a spokesman for the railroad, commented.
"Our engineers have determined that there is no structural
damage to the bridge and that freight service will be continued
after repairs are made."
Harvey said it would take four to six weeks to obtain the necessary
supplies 700 feet of rail, 600 bridge ties, and material
for a catwalk before repair work could begin. He said that
after the railroad is able to obtain the necessary equipment,
it will take between 60 and 90 days to repair the damage.
Harvey said that the east-west traffic on the bridge would
be rerouted to Utica and Oak Island and then would ultimately
cross the Hudson River at Selkirk, south of Albany.
He estimated that four to six freight trains with as many as
70 cars had crossed the city bridge each day.
The arterial highway from Delafield Street to Main Street remained
closed today and traffic was being rerouted.
"Pieces of metal, such as
spikes and plates, have been falling from the bridge," said
Raymond Connolly, an assistant resident engineer with the State
Department of Transportation. "When they drop from that height,
they hit the ground with the impact of a bullet. The arterial
section will be closed until Penn Central has removed the damaged
timbers and metal."
He declined to estimate when the section would be open to traffic,
but city police said they thought it would be by Friday.
Only one passenger train, the 11:59 a.m. train from New York
City, was delayed because of the fire.
The six north-south tracks were closed for about 45 minutes
Wednesday afternoon, and today trains are moving through Poughkeepsie
at 10 miles per hour.
The control switching system was damaged by the fire and at
one time communications along the Hudson Division were out of
service as far north as Albany. Trackmen said, today, however,
that only local controls remained damaged and that signalmen would
route the passenger traffic through the city trainyard.
Electricity for 400 Highland customers was interrupted for
30 minutes Wednesday afternoon because of damage to a cable on
the bridge. Central Hudson spokesman Peter Burdash said there
was no damage to either the electrical generating plant or the
auxilliary gas equipment beneath the Poughkeepsie Bridge.
He said that a water spray system had been activated on at
the gas plant to protect four propane tanks from any heat. He
said that the utility feared that falling timbers might have hit
the gas plant's release valve, allowing gas vapors to escape,
which could be ignited.
The Penn Central spokesman denied that the water main on the
railroad bridge was in disrepair.
"Our engineers tell us that the water system is customarily
turned off from November through May to prevent the lines from
freezing," he said.
Richard Jackson, an assistant division engineer with Penn Central
in New Haven said, however, that some of the 28 water valves on
the bridge were not working and are in a state of disrepair. He
declined to estimate the number that did not work.
Some Penn Central employes speculated that there was severe
damage to the bridge and that it might never reopen.
"A preliminary look at the bridge shows that there is
structural damage. A minute inspection of the bridge will have
to be made to determine the extent of that damage," one employe
Charles Schaffer, a Penn Central welder, said he thought that
the heat from the fire had removed the temper from the steel and
made portions of the structure brittle. "I don't believe
that you are ever going to see that bridge in operation again,"
Harvey said, however, that the railroad had not even considered
the possibility of closing the bridge. "We know that we may
have difficulty in obtaining some materials, such as ties and
timbers which are in short supply, but the bridge will reopen,"
he said flatly.
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