• Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge Cuyahoga River

  • Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
  by Jeff Smith
Flats Restaurants complain: Cleveland.com

It was always my understanding that the USCG required water traffic have the right of way.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Norfolk-Southern railroad bridge serves as the “Iron Curtain” of the Cuyahoga River.

Boaters have complained for years that it’s slow to lift to let cruise ships, freighters and recreational boats between the river and Lake Erie. Now, Flats businesses say the bridge is a bigger problem than ever -- because of more recreational river traffic, because the bridge’s dispatch center has moved from Michigan to Atlanta, because water levels are at record highs.
And the Coast Guard and Cleveland Police are loathe to patrol the river, since their boats might get stuck behind the bridge when there’s an emergency in the lake.

About 100 trains a day traverse the bridge, built in the 1940s. Motor-operated cables raise & drop the span. A bridge tender works 24 hours a day, observing boat traffic and trains headed toward the bridge, and contacting train dispatchers, who decide when the bridge can be lifted.
  by ExCon90
Two possibilities:
1) There may be an arrangement, similar to that for Portal Bridge on the NEC, between NS and the Coast Guard, allowing reasonable consideration for the railroad's operating needs;
2) Maybe they just do it--this may be an informal "established custom and practice" grandfathered from NYC days--and nobody has raised serious hell until now; it's possible that the bridgetenders just do what their predecessors have always done.

Maybe there's a compilation somewhere that lists all railroad drawbridges for which waivers or exceptions are in effect--it would be interesting to see it if there is one.
  by shlustig
The present 2-track bridge was constructed c. 1957 and replaced the original gauntlet track swing bridge. At the same time the NYC and PRR trackage was altered to allow for signaled 50 mph operation instead of the 10 mph no main tracks + multiple switchtender locations between E. 9th St. and the west side of the River. Under the old arrangement, the PRR x'd the NYC at 90-degrees at W. 3rd St. and then rejoined the NYC to cross the River and then diverge to the south to access Whiskey Island and the C&P Docks.
  by Jeff Smith
Now this is going to have to be some "precision railroading:" News5Cleveland.com
Norfolk Southern to keep 'Iron Curtain' lift bridge in 'raised' position by default

CLEVELAND — In an email to various business owners and stakeholders in the Flats, the vice president of communications at Norfolk Southern said, effectively immediately, the lift bridge at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River will default to the ‘raised’ position.

The policy change, which railroad officials stressed may not become the official standard, marks a significant victory for maritime business owners in the area who have long complained that the bridge’s ‘down’ position creates substantial delays and potential safety issues.

Tom Werner, Norfolk Southern’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, said in an email to area stakeholders Friday afternoon that a general manager within the company has ordered dispatchers and bridge tenders to keep the lift bridge – known as NS1 or ‘The Iron Curtain’ – in the raised position unless it must be lowered to accommodate rail traffic. The rail line that cuts across the Cuyahoga River accommodates nearly 90 trains per day – or a train every 15 minutes.
  by bcgfdc3
I really have no basis for this info but I believe that they only have to yield to commercial water traffic and not recreational traffic.