• RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

  • Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.
Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

Moderator: Franklin Gowen

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  by rushhour
 
LOL I see your point already.

Take care
  by jrevans
 
Franklin Gowen wrote: I can tell you, but: it's a long, crazy story. Do you really want me to go there?
I want the long, crazy story as to why the signal is still there! :-)

In other news, the EPRY has been dropping off some news ties (on the out of service main) around Sellersville and Perkasie, getting ready to do some MOW work. I'll have to check it out in more detail.
  by trackhiker
 
The following article was in today's Moring Call:

City to buy tracks for South Side greenway
--------------------

In 2007, Bethlehem will pay Norfolk Southern $300,000.

By Chuck Ayers
Of The Morning Call

April 22, 2004

Jeff Vaclavik was delivering ham sandwiches and chef salads to
employees of the Banana Factory arts center and gallery Wednesday
morning, as usual.

From his Deja Brew coffeehouse and deli on W. Fourth Street, he
walked along the Norfolk Southern railroad line slicing through
south Bethlehem to make his deliveries on W. Second Street.

He could envision the park planned for the route. It would wind
through the retail district and serve as a centerpiece for
revitalization.

''I cut across the tracks and I was thinking how great it will be
when it's done,'' Vaclavik said. ''A lot of people are anxiously
awaiting this .''

The wait could be over soon.

Bethlehem has agreed to buy the milelong stretch of Norfolk Southern
right of way for $300,000 in 2007, and will lease the property until
then.

The strip would be an 80-foot-wide walking, jogging and recreation
trail called a greenway. It would run from Union Station to the Daly
Avenue bridge, passing through the neighborhood of row homes and
abandoned Bethlehem Steel parking lots between Third and Fourth
streets.

Tony Hanna, the city's director of community and economic
development, said that after years of talks with the railroad
operator, the city finally agreed to terms and expects to make an
announcement next week.

''We're going to have a big event,'' Hanna said.

He declined to give specifics about the lease, including how much
the city would pay on it.

Already the proposed greenway is having a spinoff effect. Developers
are working on a proposed Evans Street townhouse development that
would straddle the greenway.

At a meeting of the South Side Historic and Conservation District
this week, developer Robert Smith said he and his partners in CSC
Development Co. would like to build up to 20 townhouses.

An office and retail complex on Polk Street, also fronting on the
greenway, have been proposed by developer Lou Pektor.

''It creates a pedestrian space, but it also improves the value of
the abutting properties,'' said Planning Director Darlene Heller.

Once the agreement with Norfolk Southern is signed, Heller said, the
company would begin removing the tracks, ties and poles on the
property -- possibly as soon as late spring or early summer.

She said delaying purchase of the property gives the city much-
needed time to secure funding and start the planning and
engineering that will be needed to transform the rail bed.

''We have grants we are working on, and we can move ahead with some
planning and design,'' Heller said.

Rudy Husband, director of public relations at Norfolk Southern's
Philadelphia office, said the purchase won't be until 2007 because
of tax
implications that would stem from an earlier sale.

Not everyone is happy about the tracks being torn up to create the
greenway. Advocates of passenger rail service have been working to
keep the tracks in place to accommodate what they hope will be the
eventual return of rail service to Bethlehem.

''It's very, very premature to go ripping up the track,'' said Brad
Pease, a member of the local Rail Options for the Lehigh Valley,
which is part of the 600-member Delaware Valley Association of Rail
Passengers. ''That would kill everything.''

Pease and fellow passenger-rail advocate William Hubbard said that
by
keeping the tracks, a trolley service could run from Daly Avenue to
the
planned $450 million Bethlehem Works retail, recreation and
residential
complex on the western end of the former Bethlehem Steel land.

''You could have both a greenway and a tourist trolley if they don't
pull up the track,'' Hubbard said.

Husband said taking out the rail lines wouldn't necessarily preclude
passenger service. It's possible, although difficult because of
regulations, to use the freight lines that run through the South
Side from northern New Jersey to Chicago.

''Passenger trains can operate on those tracks,'' Husband said.

Vaclavik, however, is happy that plans for the greenway are coming
together. ''Everybody walks past there and imagines what it's going
to look like when it's done,'' he said. ''It's going to look cool.''

[email protected]

610-861-3634

The EPRY had not made a run in about a week until yesterday. There were 3 covered hoppers from Fresco with a green box car on the north end and a red one on the south end sitting on the Telford siding for about a week. Today there was another green box car sitting there, but it did not appear to be the same one as last week, so it must be a new inbound.
Bill
  by jrevans
 
trackhiker wrote:
In 2007, Bethlehem will pay Norfolk Southern $300,000.
I thought that it was going to cost the city millions of dollars to buy the line???? What is going on? A payment plan? A sweetheart deal?

Anyone want to go up and protest the ceremony?

I stopped by the area on Saturday on my way back from Pocono. It's sad to see the state it's in. I'd post some pictures, but I had a bad cell in my camera, and didn't bring any spare batteries. :-(


In other news the EPRY has installed the new ties that I saw laying on the other track, as I now see old ties strewn about.
  by Franklin Gowen
 
This is the big weekend for the previously-discussed passenger excursions along the Bethlehem Branch, running between Perkasie and Quakertown!

Schedules are available at http://www.perkasieborough.org/QTrainExcursion_1.htm

Most tickets were sold in advance, but a few may be left for walk-up sales on the days of the trips.

Be warned: the weather is going to be quite ugly...humid and HOT!

Even if your preferred trip is sold out, these trains should be an interesting sight for the informed observer; almost as if the passenger discontinuance 23 years ago was just a bad dream!
  by jrevans
 
Franklin Gowen wrote:This is the big weekend for the previously-discussed passenger excursions along the Bethlehem Branch, running between Perkasie and Quakertown!

Schedules are available at http://www.perkasieborough.org/QTrainExcursion_1.htm
Being the eternal procrastinator, I just got my ticket today....

I'm riding the last (3:30pm) train on Sunday. As I said in another group, when they restore regular service in 2025, I want to say that I had ridden the last passenger train previously on the line..... :-)
  by SteelWheels21
 
How was the excursion, for those who went?
  by jrevans
 
SteelWheels21 wrote:How was the excursion, for those who went?
The excursions were quite nice, and it appeared that all of the trains were sold out. It was quite hot though, and the A/C on the NH&I coaches didn't seem to be up to the task at hand....

As I planned, I was the last passenger (non-employee) to board the last train. :-)
  by jrevans
 
I could have sworn that the city was claiming that it was going to cost a lot more than this amount to buy the ROW. Ah, what do I know?

And shouldn't the story be titled "City to rip out railroad tracks and build city park?"

--------------------

City to build park along railroad tracks

--------------------

Bethlehem will have option to buy the land in 2007 for $300,000.

By Genevieve Marshall
and Nicole Radzievich Of The Morning Call

May 27, 2004

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan said Wednesday that the city has reached a lease agreement that will allow it to turn the abandoned Norfolk Southern railroad track into a mile-long park brushing the back of businesses on W. Fourth Street.

The strip would be an 80-foot-wide walking, jogging and recreation trail called a greenway.

The park would run along the rail tracks from Union Station to the Daly Avenue bridge, passing through the neighborhood of row homes and abandoned Bethlehem Steel parking lots between Third and Fourth streets on the South Side.

''The goal is to take control of this area before it is sold off in bits and pieces,'' Callahan said during a news conference at New and Mechanic streets. ''We'd rather have it as one continuous park for people to enjoy.''

The lease calls for the city to pay $500 per month to Norfolk Southern until 2007, when Bethlehem will have the option to purchase the 14 acres for $300,000.

Callahan said the city will pay for the acquisition with a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and $200,000 through the state Department of Transportation from the federal transportation enhancement program.

The mayor is counting on Bethlehem's $1 million share of Northampton County's proposed $40 million open space fund to cover the cost of constructing the greenway, a project that will take about three years.

City Council has to approve the agreement before the lease is signed.

Once the lease agreement is finalized, Norfolk Southern will begin removing the tracks, ties and poles on the property to use for salvage, said Tony Hanna, the city's director of community and economic development.

Brad Pease, the director of Rail Options for the Lehigh Valley, a group that supports bringing passenger rail service back to the Lehigh Valley, said he supports the greenway project as long as the city keeps the option of using the 14 acres as a railway again by preserving the right of way.

''I think passenger service could come back sooner than people think,'' Pease said. ''There is a movement to extend the service from Philadelphia to Quakertown -- that's only 13 miles to Union Station in Bethlehem.

''This could be a real solution to today's traffic congestion on the highways,'' he said.

Callahan said city ownership of the right of way would make passenger rail service easier to restore.

''It will be a lot simpler to reinstate rail service if we want to 20 or 30 years down the line,'' he said. ''And that's a mighty big 'if.'''

Copyright (c) 2004, The Morning Call

--------------------
  by TuckertonRR
 
$500 rent till 2007 & $300,000 price to buy 14 acres of property? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!

Hey, how about twenty of us get together $15,000 each & offer NS that money _now_ instead of 5 years from now?

  by Franklin Gowen
 
Hello. I've been way too busy for rail activities lately, and am thus out of the loop. Would anyone happen to know if Norfolk Southern has begun ripping up the single main track between Bethlehem Union Station and the Daly Avenue Bridge yet? The 5/27/04 article implied that it was to happen pretty soon. And what of the previously-stated (2002), even-more-destructive plan to buy the other 3 miles of the "final 4" down to around Hellertown, ripping that up as well? Has that shown any progress at all?
  by jrevans
 
Franklin Gowen wrote:Hello. I've been way too busy for rail activities lately, and am thus out of the loop. Would anyone happen to know if Norfolk Southern has begun ripping up the single main track between Bethlehem Union Station and the Daly Avenue Bridge yet? The 5/27/04 article implied that it was to happen pretty soon.
Mr. Gowen....

I took a motorcycle ride up to Bethlehem this morning (06/22/2004) after midnight and as far as I could tell, all of the tracks are still in place. All of the signal equipment was still standing, as was the HEM signal (or at least the mast) and the tracks were still present everywhere that I could see. There was a suspiciously large amount of construction around Pierce Street, but the tracks are pretty far back there.
And what of the previously-stated (2002), even-more-destructive plan to buy the other 3 miles of the "final 4" down to around Hellertown, ripping that up as well? Has that shown any progress at all?
Maybe they took my advice in the letter that I sent to the STB and NS, which was to preserve the segment from Saucon Yard to the PB&NE interchange. Doubtful that I had any effect of the situation, but I was really clear in my letter that destroying that ROW would end all hopes of connecting the Bethlehem Branch to the Lehigh Valley.
  by jrevans
 
From the "Reporter Online".
http://www.thereporteronline.com/site/n ... d=12046097

I find it odd that they mention the "ultimate" destination being DeSales College. Shouldn't the "ultimate" destination be Bethlehem????

JimE

===============

Stanley Kitzelman has loved railroads his entire life, and said he'd be thrilled if there were more rail service options in the area.

===============

"Have you driven around with the automobile traffic?" the Lower Gwynedd resident asked. "Have you ever looked at SEPTA buses going around neighborhoods, because most times there's not many people in them."


As a former chairman of the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority, Kitzelman said he was involved for 20 years with plans to restore passenger rail service on abandoned rail lines, but most times those plans fell through.


Kitzelman, also a member of the Delaware Valley Rail Passenger organization, said he's excited about the efforts under way to restore passenger rail service between Lansdale and the Lehigh Valley. The DVRP, based in Philadelphia, pushes for continued, improved and expanded rail service in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and surrounding areas, states a June DVRP newsletter.


Bucks County officials on May 15 and 16 only, offered passenger train service between Quakertown and Perkasie for the first time since 1983. The service ran through a 2,150-foot long tunnel along a five-mile stretch between the two boroughs.


The former Philadelphia and Reading Railroad line, originally created between 1854 and 1856, was reopened for only two days to allow people to ride the historic railroad as part of Perkasie Borough's 125th anniversary celebration, said Dick Mindler, president of the Quakertown Train Station Historical Society.


Mindler said he hopes train service eventually will be restored permanently, or at the very least, run during Quakertown Borough's 100th anniversary celebration next year.


East Penn Railroad now uses the rail line for freight service between Telford and Quakertown, and CSX uses it between Lansdale and Telford, Mindler said.


Officials in Lansdale, Quakertown, and Bethlehem, the Bucks County TMA, the Quakertown Train Station Historical Society, DeSales University and state Sen. Rob Wonderling, R-24th District, are working to have passenger service permanently restored.


Wonderling said his staff, and others, have been working with U.S. Rep. James Greenwood, R-8th District, on securing federal money to pay for a feasibility study.


The goal is to retain a consultant this year to help the planners figure out how to create an infrastructure separate from SEPTA, which owns the rail lines, Wonderling said.


"At this point, SEPTA has no plans to revive that segment," said Gary Fairfax, a SEPTA spokesman.


He said however, that SEPTA officials in the past have been willing to discuss similar projects.


"Because it's a hypothetical situation at this point, however, I can't say anything more other than we would certainly discuss it," Fairfax said.


The initial plan is to restore rail service from Lansdale to Shelly, and ultimately expand it into the Lehigh Valley to the campus of DeSales University, Mindler said.


Kitzelman said he hopes the plans do go through, although past initiatives to restore other rail services have failed.


While serving on the county redevelopment authority, Kitzelman said he often pushed to restore rail service on various lines in the region.


Kitzelman said the redevelopment authority had focused on working with the Reading Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Trolley Co. and providing space for SEPTA to build the Norristown Transportation Center to accommodate the Route 100 high-speed trolley line that travels from Norristown to Upper Darby.


The redevelopment authority also had talked about restoring rail service near Jenkintown, revitalizing old freight lines for passenger transportation from Norristown to Reading, and expanding rail service into Coatesville and Schuylkill County. But Kitzelman said nothing happened with those plans.

  by TuckertonRR
 
jrevans:

I was thinking of taking a trip up to Bethlehem one of these weekends, and checking out the area. Would you know any decent places to park, and is the area OK to walk through/around (from Hellertown, through So Beth, up to Union Station)? I dont want to get up there and have any sort of nasty suprises!

  by kevikens
 
I have found Bethlehem a delightful area to railfan, though the end of Bethlehem Steel has terminated some really good industrial photoprops ( not to mention also quite a few jobs). If you park in the area of the old station you can walk up onto the Hill to Hill Bridge and photograph down onto the bridge spanning the Lehigh River (best in early AM) or later in the day from the other side, the remaining mills. From the other end of the bridge you photograph trains coming into JU from Allentown. I have always found it comfortable to walk around the area. Never had any trouble over the years from anyone. Can't say the same about Allentown and Easton where a few years ago two teens grabbed my photo bag and ran off with an SLR and some lenses.
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