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From: "J DOT Henry Priebe Jr DOT " root AT bluemoon DOT net
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2010 14:05:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: (erielack) Buffalo Bridges (was Strains on Railroad Bridges)
"1905_GradeXingEliminationMap.jpg" - image/jpeg, 2197x1600 (256c)

On Sun, 17 Oct 2010, Ronald wrote:

> NOTE: This message had contained at least one image attachment.
> To view or download the image(s), click on or cut and paste the
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> Map-Ohio_Basin.jpg (image/jpeg, 2058x5497 2070147 bytes, BF: 5.46 ppb)
> Henry,
> When the DL&W filed their original ROW plans with the City of Buffalo in
> 1881, they planned to cross Smith St., the Lake Shore, Fitzgerald St.,
> Katherine St, Sidway St, Mackinaw St and Hamburg St at grade. The LS&MS
> protested, and two Commissioners were appointed by the Supreme Court (one
> being Grover Cleveland), to settle the dispute. Numerous engineers were
> called for testimony, and it was decided by the Commissioners that the
> crossing over the LS&MS should be elevated. Because of this, all the
> above-mentioned streets also had to be elevated. The Lackawanna formally
> petitioned for this on June 5, 1882. The City granted the change. This
> change may have caused confusion or renumbering of bridges. Or the author
> just missed a page.
> On the Sanborn maps the "bridge" over Mackinaw and Hamburg streets is labled
> as an "iron trestle", although it certainly appears traffic travels under it
> on the street. If you back up to Bridge 160 over the Buffalo River, the
> second Buffalo River Bridge is Number 164 (161-163 missing). I'm not sure if
> they intentionally skipped numbers. They eventually bridged over Abbott Rd
> (S. Park Ave), and bridged over the Nickel Plate/BCK.
> If someone had a bridge numbering system from 1920, it would be interesting
> to compare numbers.

I noticed the gaps at the second Buffalo River crossing, but attributed that
to the intention to eventually grade separate the crossings.

Attached is a map of Buffalo Grade Crossing Improvements made from 1888 to
1905. The Abbott Rd grade separation was part of this plan along with the
crossings at Seneca and Elk streets, as shown below.

Buffalo was heavily pushing for grade separation by the 1880's as the downtown
had become very congested with RRs and ever more dangerous for pedestrians and
wagon traffic. The Grade Crossings Commission grew out of this movement.
Buffalo had been negotiating with the railroads for several years with a
modicum of success, but the lack of progress with the West Shore, the LS&MS
and the Buffalo Creek resulted in the "Act of April 20, 1892," which attempted
to make grade separation compulsory by law due to the railroads' reticence.
After much wrangling in Albany, it was made law and allowed for the creation
of a master plan, to be adopted in 1900. While the Erie has agreed in
principal that grade crossing elimination was desirable and that it had an
obligation to pay a substantial portion of the costs, it fought tooth and nail
against making it compulsory through a law. The Erie believed that once legal
powers were granted to a commission that the commission would then force the
railroad to pay an inordinate amount of the costs for many works that the
railroad didn't agree were necessary. The Erie was afraid that it would have
no further say in the matter. It was not far wrong as once the Act was made
law, a push for elevating the railroads, creating both union passenger and
union freight stations and elevating waterfront dock trackage commenced.
Grandiose proposals that would cost the railroads millions of dollars (nothing
to sneeze at pre-1900) were advanced. The grade crossing debacle is probably
the reason that Buffalo never got its grand Union Station due to the animosity
that was created during this period.

In March of 1895, according to the book "Abolition in Buffalo of Railroad
Grade Crossings, "The next contract made was with the Delaware, Lackawanna &
Western Railroad Company, and dated March 6, 1895. It provides for the
elevation of the railroad tracks at the crossings at Seneca Street, Elk
Street and the Abbott Road, and the carrying of these three streets under the
railroad tracks." I believe it is likely that the DL&W had provided for this
sort of thing when numbering its bridges. BTW, the DL&W's share of costs for
this grade separation was set at 55% and the city's at 45%, which was a
somewhat better deal than other RRs got.

By 1895 the Erie was suffering severe financial hardship and the city became
resigned to initially paying for all of the Erie work and then charging the
railroad bond interest for its share:

"Resolved, That the proposed action of the Grade Crossings Commissioners in
extending the time of payment by the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad
Company, and the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company, of the
moneys to be expended by the city in doing that part of the work which it is
proposed to allot to said companies respectively, pursuant to the Grade Cross-
ings Act, be approved as is also the proposed agreement that the city provide
the money for this purpose by issuing its bonds; the company agreeing to pay
the city the same rate of interest as shall be borne by the bonds."

In 1896 a contract with the Buffalo Creek RR was entered into with similar
terms as the Erie deal, except that the city would be repaid in twenty annual
payments with interest. NKP's deal was identical with the Erie's.

At the time the costs of the plan were estimated at $1 million for city and $5
million for the railroads. It becomes obvious why the RRs fought it to teh
bitter end. By 1905 the costs worked out to roughly a 70/30 split with the RRs
share amounting to roughly $5.3 million.

I have rambled on a bit here, but being in my own backyard it has a lot of
interest for me.


J. Henry Priebe Jr. Blue Moon Internet Corp Network Administrator Internet Access & Web Hosting Railfan Network Services


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