• New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by fordhamroad

-the Highbrookhighline group has come up with some interesting new information about the NYW&B ROW around the Bridge. Highbrook Avenue is named for a spring --which once fed an actual brook. The strong flowing water emerges on the abandoned NYW&B as a spring. It drains into some kind of drainage system built into the railroad embankment by the NYW&B. This same system, according to the Pelham Village engineer drains water from as far away as New Rochelle, and runs into Pelham, around Third Avenue. Pelham Village has been trying to get some of the New Rochelle water diverted, to reduce bad weather flooding in downtown Pelham.

-it thus appears that demolition of the Bridge will cause serious drainage problems for the immediate Highbrook Avenue area (which is a low spot) and also will exacerbate flooding problems in Pelham closer to the Hutchinson River.

-Advocates for removal of the Bridge and construction of housing now have another problem -- drainage of spring water -- to add to drainage of flood water to solve, before demolition of the Bridge could become a reality.

-the Village Board is being asked to fund a study of the drainage issue, and seek a grant application for possible mitigation.

-There may be Hydraulic as well as Historic reasons why the Bridge should be preserved.

-I don't think much as been written about the role of the lowly sewer in the building and operation of the NYW&B. Obviously, all railroads need to deal with drainage. The NYW&B, because it made so many extra cuts and fills to avoid grade crossings and maintain a level profile, must have had many more drainage issues than the average railroad on flat ground. Also, most of the early NYW&B (up to 1921) was built on undeveloped ground, where the natural springs and streams still flowed,l rather than in built up aread with developed storm and sanitary sewers. Anyone have information about how the NYW&B dealt with drainage?

Roger Wines
  by pbass
I haven't traveled the ROW in quite sometime.Perhaps Otto could elaborate more.In my railroad experience,what i have seen in regards to drainage,culverts were built under the roadbed and drained usually into a brook,river or a larger body of water.I have noticed on the NYCTA number 5 (Dyre Ave.)line,the former NYWB,water would drain from the inside tracks{tracks1&2}to the outside tracks{tracks3&4}into a channel with drains spaced at intervals most likely draining into the NYC sewer lines.This method is necessary especially in the Pelham Parkway tunnel.From the city line past Baychester Ave station,the ROW being built on high embankments the water would naturally drain downward away from the track structure.
  by fordhamroad
-A Little Good News about Highbrook Bridge--

-On Tuesday September 22, the Pelham Village Board was informed that there was an opportunity for a non governmental community organization to appy for an environmental remediation grant, a program run through Sen Jeff Klein's office. The Highbrookhighline group has prepared an application for remediating soil pollution in one part of the Right of Way and taking the first step toward beginning the Highline trail. After lengthy and contentious debate, the Board agreed to endorse the non=profit group's application, providing that no costs to the village were incurred. The Board held off any more extensive approval of action on the Bridge and W&B site, until a committee report on comparing the housing vs. greenspace costs and benefits. The report is nearly finished, Hopefully the Board may be moved to a positive decision sometime this Fall. But the battle continues. Petitions are being circulated among neighborhood residents to build up support for saving the Bridge and creating a trail on the old right of way.

Roger Wines
  by Otto Vondrak
pbass wrote:I haven't traveled the ROW in quite sometime.Perhaps Otto could elaborate more.
The NYWB was designed like any other railroad of the day, nothing I can elaborate on. But if you were to remove the railroad entirely, the adjacent properties would definitely have some drainage issues without the railroad to divert.
  by fordhamroad
-Drainage Issues on the Westchester--

-the little bit I have uncovered so far, is that the usual drainage issues were covered according to each location. Research would have to be done in the old Building Permits for each city, town or village.For the most part, on the White Plains line north of Mt. Vernon, the ROW was on undeveloped hill, field and forest with no municipal drainage systems built until later, when developers put houses, water lines, sewers into lands adjacent to the rail roadbed. Even in the northern Bronx sections, the railbed was put in place before streets were paved and sewered. It is probable that additional arrangements and changes were made in the outlets for NYW&B track drainage and station sewage, after the surrounding streets were built. The post 1921 expansion, from Larchmont Junction to Portchester , was constructed in already built up municipalities, but there must also have been some intermediate stops in undeveloped or newly developing neighborhoods.

Roger Wines
  by pbass
Thanks for the insight fordhamroad.Most of the ROW was on built up embankment so drainage was no problem.In low lying areas drainage was off to sides of the tracks.It is eveident the engineers who designed and built this magnificent railway knew what they were doing in regard to drainage and all other facets of construction. On the concreted viaducts,drains had to be spaced at intervals and most likely ran down drain pipes to the street or into drywells. FYI-Fordham Road was a hangout of mine when I lived in the Bronx.I liked it so much I obtained a large FORDHAM sign from MTA Metro-North.
  by fordhamroad
-Well, the Pelham Preservation & Garden Society, the main historical group in Pelham, offered to apply to NY State for an Environmental Justice Grant. The money would be to clean up pollution on part of the NYW&B ROW so it can be opened as a green(this is the east end of the Pelham strip, partially above the old Storer Ave platforms). Any overplus would be used to fund a study of how next to rehabilitate the remaining ROW. It seems clear that the Village of Pelham is presently opposed to having the Bridge designated as an historical landmark on the State & National Register. After heated debate, the Village Board agreed to support the environmental grant application, providing it didn't cost the Village any money. Then, to secure the grant, a letter affirming the educational value of the grant was signed by several Pelham science teachers. It was all duly submitted on time, and Sen. Jeff Klein's office indicated it would try to support us.
-Suddenly, without speaking to any of us, the Pelham Board of Education decided the teacher's letter was unauthorized by them, and on cautious advice of counsel, told the NY State office to withdraw the teacher's letter, thus knocking the grant application out of eligibility.
- News of this disaster prompted vigorous remonstrances with Board members, and after a week of argument and responses, the Board of Education yielded and agreed to permit individual teachers' letters (rather than a group letter) in support of the application. We are trying now to get the grant application reinstated on the eligible list with new letters of support from the same teachers who signed the original.
-I think we're getting into "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
=And we are still planning to apply for National Register status. Hope.

Roger Wines
  by Otto Vondrak

-Suddenly, without speaking to any of us, the Pelham Board of Education decided the teacher's letter was unauthorized by them, and on cautious advice of counsel, told the NY State office to withdraw the teacher's letter, thus knocking the grant application out of eligibility.

I don't know what the village has to gain by being uncooperative. They clearly have a plan that does not involve saving the bridge or making parkland. At what point will they reveal their plans? At what point does the state or a higher authority get involved?

  by fordhamroad
Hi Otto -
-Pelham Village had some preliminary plans, which we managed to secure, which would have placed at least 7 --50x100 --housing plots on the NYW&B ROW. There was potential profit to be made by the builder and real estate agent, and a tax flow from seven new homes into the Village coffers. Against this, there was the potential cost of demolishing the Highbrook Avenue NYW&B concrete arch bridge, and reworking sewers and drainage. The argument against saving the bridge was an economic one, and we had to respond to it in economic terms.
-we prepared counter proposals, indicating that it might be more profitable, in the long run, to keep and restore the bridge and create a neighborhood park which would increase the taxable value of the adjacent neighborhood. We also costed out the added expense to the school district of seven new families, which at about 50,000 per year cost for each potential new student, would cost the school district far more than the modest increase in real estate taxes. We have an RFP in preparation for new demolition and restoration options, which the Village Board has agreed to study, with today's real costs.
-we also began to spread the idea of an innovative Highbrookhighline park, which attracted media interest and interest from park planning and historical restoration people. We pointed out that this would add to the overall attractivieness of Pelham as a suburban residential community. We approached a whole variety of historic and conservation groups. We set up a website. We have been gathering some converts.
-What role do governments play?
-The Village of Pelham has owned the land for seven decades. It has never done much useful with it. It has never formally designated the open space, which is one quarter of the remaining unbuilt land in Pelham, as a park. It is legally free to sell it or do whatever.
-There is no local historical Landmarks law or Commission which could act to protect the Bridge. The Village of Pelham has refused to apply for landmark status on the State and National Register of Historic Places. (As an example of early 20th century Reinforced concrete arch construction, it would also qualify as an Engineering landmark) Again, the Village Board is unrestrained. It can not be compelled, but it can be convinced.
-Currently there is no interest and there are no programs on the County, State and National level to take ownership of the Bridge away from the Village. There are no laws which would give them a basis to act. Even if we succeeded, over the opposition of the property owner, in having the Bridge placed on the National Register, this is no guarantee that the Bridge would be preserved. If the owner had no use for it, after a few public hearings, it could still be demolished. Remember Cos Cob.
-So we had to win in the most democratic way, by persuading a majority of the citizens and a majority of their elected officials, that there was a better way, that preservation would make more fiscal, cultural and social sense than demolition. No one thought it would be easy. But that's no excuse to do nothing.
-If you want to save your own local surviving railroad sites, there is a lesson in this. You need to organize locally. You need to do lots of research and homework, so you can argue with the real estate people, business people and lawyers You need to raise money. Complaints and wishful expressions won't do it. You have to wage a campaign and win a battle.
-in Pelham, we're fighting to preserve our railroad heritage. You should fight for yours.

Roger Wines
  by fordhamroad
-just an update. As previously reported, the Friends of Highbrookhighline are pushing on to try and save the Highbrook Ave. bridge (100 years old in 2011) by making it part of a walking trail and playground on the remains of the right of way in Pelham. Despite considerable reluctance on the part of the Village Board, which owns the site, the Friends have secured support from the Pelham Preservation & Garden Society to apply for a NY State grant for pollution remediation, and has just secured the endorsement of the project by the Siera Club.
-the Westchester chapter of the Sierra Club is also supporting efforts to preserve and develop the Kingsbridge Road station site, a bit of NYW&B ROW which was preserved last year as parkland by the City of Mount Vernon.

-the Friends are now trying to get professionals in forestry and park planning to assist with a detailed trail and tree planting plan. If we can break it down into smaller projects, we are hoping to get it done piecemeal project by project with small donations of cash and colunteers.

-Best wishes to all the NYW&B crowd for the holidays.

Roger Wines
  by fordhamroad

-Update - The grant application for a NY State Environmental Justice grant to remedy pollution and plan renewal of the NYW&B ROW in Pelham didn't make it, and was not selected. The Highbrook Highline folks have a possible local donation of a few thousand dollars for clean up and opening of the lawn on the east end of the site. Working hard on this. We got some interesting proposals etc. from landscape firms to study turning the route into a woodland trail, historic bridge, and grassy play site. Just need $$$
-the Pelham Village Board will meet Feb. 7 to review proposals from contractors for study of restoration/demolition of the concrete bridge.
The Friends of Highbrook Highline continue to attract new members to their Facebook page. Will keep y'all posted on events. It is a long slow process.

Roger Wines
  by Jeff Smith
<Bump> doing some rearranging.

I broke the Highbrook and Heathcote posts in the main thread out into separate topics. It seemed to me that they both were worthy of dedicated threads.

The original thread is here: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 91&t=67976

Heathcote Thread: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 91&t=91685

I may find some more stuff in the New Haven forum as this material was in New York State, since relocated to NH.
  by fordhamroad

-As mentioned, preservation of the NYW&B Right of Way and Bridge and transformation into a parkland has been endorsed by the Sierra Club. Susan Mutti has put the letter on her Facebook site. Friends of Highbrook Highline.
-The Junior League of Pelham may provide a $5,000 grant to begin clean up and planting of the east end of the site, ---the lawn area partly covering the old Storer Ave station platforms. Mitigation of one polluted spot and new soil cover are required. Goal is now to have a partial opening of the ROW this summer (August 3rd??) 100th anniversary??.
-two more pieces of concrete have fallen off the bridge. The Pelham Village engineer has recommended that chain link fencing be placed around the bridge for safety reasons. If you want clear, unblocked photos, come right now. Any sunny afternoon gives you great lighting on the south side of the bridge.
-The Village Board is contracting for a study of costs of either demolishing or repairing the bridge. Everything still hangs in the balance. Currently, the Village is spending its park money on refurbishing the Wolf's Lane park, not much money available for a Highbrook project.
-a community clean up by volunteers is being organized this Spring. We are actively seeking more private donations and landmark status.

-we're striving.

Best wishes

Roger Wines

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