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ENY Tunnel- LIRR Bay Ridge Division

- Peter Puleo - Sunday, March 29th, 2009 : goo

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The Long Island Railroad Bay Ridge Division, is a freight route that cuts across Kings County (Brooklyn) ,and a large swath of Queens County. Connecting with tracks at Fresh Pond Yard and Sunnyside Yard, it ships and receives freight out to eastern Long Island and also New England and, Canada via the Hell Gate Bridge. In Brooklyn this line runs through Bushwick into East New York Tunnel and out across central Brooklyn towards Bay Ridge and the Brooklyn Army Freight Terminal where container ships meet the line. Many industries continue to operate along it's entire route including the Palagonia Bread Co. Bell Bialy, and The Brooklyn Terminal Markets.

Originally this route was built in 1877 as the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway where tracks ran along what is now the present day Brighton Subway line to where it meets the Bay Ridge tracks at Avenue H in Flatbush and switching off to either Bay Ridge where passengers would catch a boat to New York or Long Island City where a ferry would take you to New York. Manhattan Beach was a premier exclusive resort at that time, very different from neighboring Brighton and Coney Island. During this period the line ran at grade, and at East New York it connected with the LIRR Atlantic Branch (Montauk Branch) and the Canarsie-Rockaway Beach Railway. This busy crossing where present day Atlantic/East New York Ave meet was called Manhattan Junction. In 1900 the LIRR was acquired by the Pennsylvania Railway. The company began building a connection to the New Haven line in New England via the Hell Gate Bridge for revenue, making passenger service a distant second priority. Subsequently by 1910 only 4 trains a day ran this route.

On May 9, 1903 The Brooklyn Grade Crossing Elimination Commission was created by the New York State legislature. The goal of this project was to give the rails a private right of way and not hinder with growing street traffic. The work was begun in 1914 and fully completed in May, 1918.The work was paid for jointly between the City of New York, and the LIRR and BRT, as a public/private partnership.

East New York station is a simple concrete island platform with Doric Columns servicing two tracks. The tunnel it-self has four tubes only one of which is used today. Two had their tracks torn up and one is blocked by a wall built in 1969 at East New York station. The tunnel is 3,900 ft long and runs under the Broadway Junction sections of Bushwick/East New York from roughly Granite St/Evergreen Ave to Atlantic/East New York Ave. The tunnel was constructed using the cut and cover method.
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Despite the amount of money and time used to build this passenger service was discontinued by 1924. In 1927 the Bay Ridge Branch was electrified for freight service using the 11kv AC catenary of the Pennsylvania and New Haven roads. Until 1969 this route was heavily used by freight trains but almost became totally abandoned when there after the newly merged Penn Central re-routed all the freight traffic to New England by way of Albany, to avoid the marine operation across New York Harbor. The wires were taken down and the line was virtually obsolete until the 1970s when the New York & Atlantic RR purchased it strictly for freight service.

Although it only sees a fraction of the commerce it once saw, freight trains still ply this route and the East New York tunnel and station remains, possibly waiting for passenger use one day in the future. In the meantime the tunnels are a hot spot for graffiti artists and the station is eerily fascinating.

In the 1960s Robert Moses wanted to use this route as the base for his never built Cross Brooklyn Expressway. We should be lucky it was never built.

This article has been viewed 19067 times in the last 6 years

Sean Hopkins: 29th Mar 2009 - 22:12 GMT

This is a great post Peter, love that second photo. You really are a wealth of knowledge!

CartLegger: 30th Mar 2009 - 01:00 GMT

Thanks for posting this bundle of info! how hilarious it is that you and Peter both were walking the area at the same time! Wait till you see his photos...

Peter: 30th Mar 2009 - 01:15 GMT

lol... i put some up here, from the other side of the tunnel... still havent spent much time on the side, but thats on the to-do list ;)

Caesar: 30th Mar 2009 - 05:32 GMT

Ha ha ha, I feel like I just learned something, thanks for taking the time to share this!

jack: 27th Sep 2009 - 02:55 GMT

It's hard to believe the damage PC did to the railroad. As stated that was a very busy, double tracked, electric line

Douglas A. Willinger: 22nd Mar 2010 - 00:03 GMT

Why should we be lucky that the CBE was not buit?

The final design was quite good and a far better effort then what we have now- if only it were combined with a multi model Cross Harbor Tunnel to I-78 in New Jersey.

fron japan: 19th Aug 2010 - 11:23 GMT

It knew in the newspaper of Japan.
It was interested and it came to see.
Thank you.

Meredith Staton: 30th Apr 2013 - 00:53 GMT

The time has come to join Staten Is to the rest of the city via a 4 track tunnel at Bay rigde.Two for subway and two for freight rail.Then we can go to New Jersey

George ciresi: 5th Dec 2014 - 16:58 GMT

The bay ridge line has been a hobby of mine since 1964. Photos,slides and 8mm movies of new haven dd40's electric engines running along the sea beach line in brooklyn headed towards the east New York tunnels crossing fresh pond and crossing the great hell gate bridge. The 60's were great, but when the cantery's came down the decline had started. I continued my annual trip via foot from 1st avenue to hell gate. It got so bad with being a dumping ground I thought we were done. Thanks to ny&atlantic rr my photo collection & memories of this childhood hobby lives on. Thanks ny&atlantic.

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