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Track Renewal on Manhattan Bridge, 1985-86 1.0.0

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About This File

You had asked me about the TA's track rehabilitation program on the Manhattan Bridge and to determine if we should recommend change in the TA plan, in order to forestall service disruptions. After meeting with the TA on Monday, we feel the TA should proceed with its program at this time, despite the ensuing disruptions on the B, D, QB, N and RR trains.
Due to State DOT's plans to reconstruct the Manhattan Bridge, the track repair must be done now or it will have to be put off for two years. The TA insists that this work is critical and should not be delayed. Outlined below is a description of the project and its potential impacts.

The Manhattan Bridge roadway and tracks are in need of major structural rehabilitation, which will result in
partial closure of the bridge, (see note) Both State DOT and the TA will be performing repairs. The TA has determined that it needs 10 weeks, from August 10 to November 2, with a

24-hour shutdown of the tracks on the north side of the bridge for track replacement and repair.

The schedule of repairs to the bridge structure and roadways necessarily dictate the TA's track rebuilding schedule. If subway track work is not begun by August, the TA will have to wait 2.5 years to commence work, and it does not feel it is safe to wait that long. Clearance on the bridge is limited, requiring that new track be installed by hand. The areas requiring closure include approximately 2.6 miles of track, needing 320 new panels. With a 24-hour shutdown, the

TA estimates it can replace three panels per day, compared to one panel per day, with the normal five-hour work day.

Four subway tracks are involved: two on the north side of the bridge connect to the IND Sixth Avenue line in Manhattan, and are used by the "D" Brighton express and the "B" West End Express; two on the south side carry the "N" Sea Beach and "QB" rush hour service from the Brighton line, both of which run on the Broadway BMT line in Manhattan.

Brooklyn passengers travelling to midtown, will be inconvenienced only to the extent of ending up on Broadway rather than on 6th Avenue, a distance of one block. The relatively few riders who make the trip from Brooklyn to destinations above 57th Street, or the reverse, will have to transfer at 34th Street from the Brooklyn B and D service to a separate service that will run between West 4th Street and normal Bronx terminals. TA officials estimate that approxi­ mately 20,400 passengers will be affected by these changes.

Two years ago, the TA had to reroute these trains the same way. The TA's track and structures team said commuters did not seem to mind this route, which is actually shorter than the current run, and similar to the old BMT route.

Specifically, closure of the north tracks will affect B, D, QB, N, and RR trains. Weekdays, both b and D services will continue to operate normal headways, but will run via the south side of the bridge to Broadway, rather than over the north side to Sixth Avenue. N trains will run via the Montague Street tunnel and up the local tracks on Broadway,

adding about ten minutes to an average rider's trip. Two RR Chambers Street "specials" will be annulled, as will one QB.

Based on the impact of the last 24-hour track closure on the #7 train, TA Officials estimate that in the first few days of closure, ridership will decline, but will return to normal by the fourth day. Although commuters may face rides 5 to 15 minutes longer than usual, the TA. is increasing the number of cars on line to avoid overcrowding.

At Monday's meeting, Chuck Stanford, the Vice President for TA Track and Structures indicated that there are no structural problems on the Manhattan Bridge that would delay the track rebuilding. Problems could arise, however, if there

were an emergency on either of the other two subway lines that cross the river from Brooklyn.

Upon completion, the track and bridge structure repairs will, of course, make for a safer ride, and should permit

trains to travel over the Manhattan Bridge at 20 miles per hour, as compared to the current five mile per hour limit. This should save commuters four to five minutes of travel time.

I have attached the TA's memorandum, detailing the subway service changes required during the partial shutdown of the Manhattan 

Bridge. Public officials will be briefed Wednesday, July 24, and a press announcement about scheduled changes in service will be made Thursday, July 25.


Note: The traffic department has been coordinating the bridge work with the New York State DOT, which has contracted for

structural repairs on the Manhattan Bridge. Traffic, therefore, has been aware of the closure for quite some time. The TA has met with the State DOT to coordinate repair schedules. DOT repairs on the north side of the bridge will last until April 1986, with 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. work hours. During the next three months, "phase I" of DOT's repairs, the bridge will be fully open to car traffic at rush hours; but,

from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be periodic lane closings, mostly on the lower roadway. On some weekends the lower roadway will be closed for 24 hours per day. Over the next two years, the two upper roadways on the bridge will alternate being closed 24 hours, with occasional off-peak closures on

the lower roadway.

cc: Edward I. Koch/ Bob Esnard

Ronay Menschel

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