• Portal draw: how do boats get it opened?

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by timz
 
When a boat on the Hackensack River approaches Portal drawbridge, does he call the dispatcher on the radio to get him to open the bridge? And then he calls again to tell him he's clear?

How often does the bridge open, anyway? Does the dispatcher/operator have the right to delay boats at all?

  by Ken W2KB
 
The boat calls the bridge operator on a marine frequency. Normally bridges have to open on signal for boats at any time, stopping train or highway traffic. I recall reading that Portal has a special exemption from the Coast Guard that allows it to remain shut during rush hours. It would have to open at any time for boats having an emergency and for vessels owned by the US Government.

  by Don31
 
Ken W2KB wrote:I recall reading that Portal has a special exemption from the Coast Guard that allows it to remain shut during rush hours. It would have to open at any time for boats having an emergency and for vessels owned by the US Government.
Thats my understanding as well.
  by henry6
 
I had heard that there were regulations in effect that boats, especially commercial vessels, had to notify the Coast Guard months (6?) in advance in writing in order that a bridge might be opened on the Hackensack or Passaic Rivers. Now, that was five or more years ago, so maybe it has been recinded.

  by JLo
 
I had heard that there were regulations in effect that boats, especially commercial vessels, had to notify the Coast Guard months (6?) in advance in writing in order that a bridge might be opened on the Hackensack or Passaic Rivers. Now, that was five or more years ago, so maybe it has been recinded.


I'm not sure it is 6 months, but I think that notice relates to the ex-DLW Passaic River bridge at Broad St. and all the NJT bridges further up river from there. In fact, I think there is a sign posted to that effect on the DLW bridge or the Stickel (Rt 280) Bridge. I have not seen them open for at least 5 years. Heck, it has been almost that long since I saw the NEC bridge over the Passaic open.

  by 7 Train
 
The Lower Hack (Morristown Line), Upper Hack (Main Line) and HX (Bergen County Line) bridges open on 1 hour (Lower Hack) and 1/2 hour (Upper Hack, HX) advance notice.

Here are the placards from the bridges:

Image

(Lower Hack)


Image

(Upper Hack)

  by timz
 
Thanks for that. I wonder how the advance notice helps the RR? They have to send somebody out there? So Dock doesn't need notice?

Do all the drawbridges around here here have to be operated by a man at the bridge? None are remote control? Would a remote control bridge be legal? Not sure, but I think the Benicia bridge (on the SP main in California) is remote control, and they do get regular ship traffic.

I think the I-280 bridge says 24 hour notice.

  by Ken W2KB
 
I've read Coast Guard notices approving a remote control. I don't remember where, but the bridge had to have a remote operated horn, and perhaps other special equipment. Nowadays an internet video feed would be easy.

  by Bruiser23
 
If my nautical classes serve me correctly, the "hour advance notice" is so that if there are other boats in the area looking for a bridge opening as well, they have an hour to queue up, thus requiring only one opening.

For example, boat 1 pulls up to the bridge at 10am and hails the bridge tender on Marine VHF Ch 13. Any other boats in the area looking for a bridge opening will be monitoring Channel 13 (as well as 16 :wink: ) and can plan on arriving at the bridge by 11am for the bridge to open, otherwise they will call and "schedule" another opening, or they can keep the bridge down for rail traffic until boat 2 arrives, and if the captain of boat 1 also obliges.

On Long Island, during the busy summer season, the draw bridges open every hour on the hour, and during the off-season they open with 30 minutes advanced notice, IIRC.

  by Ken W2KB
 
At the very much tidal Passaic and Hackensack River bridges of interests, the maritime companies will often give notice by phone well ahead of the hour, since the status of the tide and tidal current affects some of their operations.

  by JLo
 
There are remote control draw bridges in NJ--or at least plans for them. The Rt 71 and Ocean Ave bridges over Shark River are supposed to be operated by one tender.

  by Jersey_Mike
 
I have heard that all NJTRO movable bridges have been placed under remote control with the exception of Berile (which is also an active interlocking station). The tenders were housed in Terminal Tower Hoboken and have probably since been moved to Club Med.

  by Jtgshu
 
Im not sure about all of them, as I have dropped off and picked up the bridge tender at River many times, and see the tender at Morgan on a daily basis, as he always stands on the porch and inspects the trains as they go by. Oceanport is opened by hand I do believe (someone told me that , I honestly have no idea), and eveyr time ive seen it opened, (only a handful) there is always NJT MOW trucks there. But there is always a car parked next to the tower in the summer.

During hte busy summer boating months, Morgan is kept open and closed for trains. Morgan is opened adn closed dozens of times a day!!! That gets a workout!

The bridges might be remotely opened and closed, but there may still be a tender there to check to see if its all locked up and notify the dispatcher when to open and close it. Im pretty sure thats how it works at Portal - the tender is contacted, Sect A dispatcher gives the block and "unlocks" the bridge, the tender actually opens nad closes it, then check it to see if its lined and locked, then gives control back to the dispatcher, and he "'locks" the bridge back up and pulls up the signals for the now couple of trains sitting waiting there. :wink:

  by Ken W2KB
 
Makes sense to retain tenders for busy bridges. The ones I've seen the legal notices for 'remoting' had relatively little traffic (but not so little making a long advance notice feasible) and thus the railroad or highway department did not want to pay for tenders.

  by Sirsonic
 
While NJT does have some unattened bridges, they are not remote. For example, there is one operator (bridge tender really) who operates HX, Upper Hack and Lower Hack. In the event a tug and barge need to pass, a regular occurance (maybe twice or so a week), the operator will open and close the first bridge, and then drive to the next bridge.

Morgan and Brielle are both very low (Morgan would have to open for a person on a jet ski) and have a high volume of marine traffic the entire year, and so they are kept open, and closed on the approach of a train.

Oceanport is controlled by an operator at the bridge, and actually recieved a great deal of work a few years ago.

All of the moveable bridges on NJT (excpet Brielle, which is also an interlocking station) have any associated controlled signals controlled by the affiliated train dispathcer. When the bridge needs to open, the bridge tender contacts the dispatcher, who sets the signals to stop, and releases the bridge to local control. The bridge tender then unlocks and opens the bridge. Once the bridge is closed and locked, the dispatcher takes control back.

Finally, an interesting note, while not exactly a remote control bridge, the operator at Conrail's HACK bridge, located next to the PATH Hack bridge, controls not only Conrail Hack, but also the PATH bridge, if it should need to open.