The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Bayonne Bridge

subsidiary impression

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You see it all the time, here at your Newtown Pentacle. The Bayonne Bridge, deemed an archaic impediment to navigation by those scions of NY harbor whose hidden machinations are confined to secretive board room meetings at Port Authority and the NYC EDC, is often used as a frame for tugboat shots by your humble narrator. Othman Amman’s second masterpiece (after Hellgate), the bridge is destined to be altered shortly. Accordingly, a group of enthusiasts, antiquarians, and weirdos were gathered one fine September morning to walk across it.

from a Newtown Pentacle posting of June 26, 2009

The fourth largest steel arch bridge on Earth with a height of 150 feet over the water, it connects Bayonne, New Jersey’s Chemical Coastline with Staten Island. It’s primary mission is to allow vehicular traffic access to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel…

The Bayonne Bridge was designed by a man who helped design the Hell Gate rail bridge on the East river- and was principal designer for the Verrazano bridge over the Narrows, The George Washingston Bridgeover the Hudson River, the Bronx Whitestone Bridge over the East River, the Throgs Neck Bridge over the East River. He was brought in to simplify the design of mighty Triborough– which is actually a bridge and highway complex spanning multiple waterways and islands. A swede Swiss, Othmar Amman worked for Gustavus Lindenthal (designer of the the Queensboro and Hell Gate Bridges), and took over as head bridge engineer at the New York Port Authority in 1925. He also directed the planning and construction of the the Lincoln Tunnel.

He was Robert Moses’s “guy”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We came to… Staten Island… via the ferry, and accessed a bus which took us to a less than savory section of the forgotten borough adjoining the bridge. There, the walkway was gained and off we went. Amongst our number was Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY fame, my aide de camp and far eastern correspondent Armstrong, as well as our railroad expert, and a certain lady who knows that all that glitters is gold. Stairway to heaven, indeed.

from panynj.gov

Initially, the bridge was planned for motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians only. Accordingly, a suspension bridge design was developed since this type of bridge offered the most economical way to engineer a single span across the Kill Van Kull for motor vehicles. However, the suspension scheme was abandoned when the Port Authority commissioners insisted that considerations be made for at least two rail transit tracks to be added at some future date. (Studies showed that adapting a suspension design for rail traffic would be cost-prohibitive.) With rail traffic in mind, the bridge’s chief designer, Othmar H. Ammann, began developing a scheme that spanned the Kill Van Kull with a single, innovative, arch-shaped truss. As with the suspension bridge scheme, Ammann worked on the arch design in partnership with architect Cass Gilbert. The arch bridge that emerged promised to be a remarkably efficient solution, well suited to the site from both an engineering and aesthetic standpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge over my beloved Newtown Creek, Bayonne Bridge is a relict of an earlier age with a less than bright future. Public fortunes will be spent on reengineering it to fit the needs of private commercial interests. Government sources describe a scenario in which the arch itself will remain unaltered, but that the road which it carries will be obliterated and replaced. Increasingly important to accomplish the walk before this happened, we ignored the signs along the walkway adjuring against suicide and left… Staten Island… for New Jersey to see what could be seen. More to come…

Also- Upcoming tours…

for an expanded description of the October 13th Kill Van Kull tour, please click here

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

present position

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maritime Sunday is with us once again, happening to coincide with Greek or Eastern Orthodox Easter (known as greester here in Astoria) as well as the 100th anniversary of the well known Titanic disaster. That subject will be explored by everyone else, I suspect, so instead let’s check out the scene on the Kill Van Kull.

from wikipedia

The Bayonne Bridge is the fourth-longest steel arch bridge in the world, and was the longest in the world at the time of its completion. It connects Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York, spanning the Kill Van Kull. Despite popular belief, it is not a national landmark.

The bridge was designed by master bridge-builder Othmar Ammann and the architect Cass Gilbert. It was built by the Port of New York Authority and opened on November 15, 1931, after dedication ceremonies were held the previous day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were captured while onboard one of the many Working Harbor Committee excursions I attended last summer, and portrays one of those summer days which New York is infamous for. Heavy clouds of humidity dangle, and inescapable temperatures render the entire archipelago in a tropical aspect.

from wikipedia

The Kill Van Kull is a tidal strait between Staten Island, New York and Bayonne, New Jersey in the United States. Approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) long and 1,000 feet (305 m) wide, it connects Newark Bay with Upper New York Bay. The Robbins Reef Light marks the eastern end of the Kill, Bergen Point its western end. Spanned by the Bayonne Bridge, it is one of the most heavily travelled waterways in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From this cauldron of wet heat emerged the vermillion hull of a Bouchard tug, the Frederick E Bouchard. It was returning from the gargantuan Port Newark complex, where it’s unknown mission seemed to have been accomplished.

from bouchardtransport.com

From his first voyage at eleven years of age as a cabin boy on a sailing ship bound for China, Captain Bouchard knew that shipping would be his life. By 1915, he was the youngest tugboat captain in the Port of New York.

On July 30, 1916, while on watch of the tug C. GALLAGHER of the Goodwin, Gallagher Sand Co., Captain Bouchard witnessed the infamous Black Tom Explosion, which detonated $22 Million dollars worth of WW I munitions. Always one to set out to accomplish what few others could, he took his tug from the Long Dock at Erie Basin in Brooklyn and headed for New Jersey. Amongst continuing explosions, which blew the glass panes and lights out of his tug, he worked to rescue the 4,000-ton Brazilian steamer TIJOCA RIO, and the schooner GEORGE W. ELEZY, of Bath, ME. Later the US District Court awarded the Captain a salvage award and an additional award for personal bravery, which totaled $9,000. He quickly invested the salvage award to create his own company, Bouchard Transportation Company, which was incorporated in 1918.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A fairly large boat, for NY Harbor at least, the tug made good time against the tide. Models like this one are used by the petroleum industry to ferry fuel barges from point to point along the waterfront, ensuring that bulk delivery of “product” to local distribution depots happens in a timely fashion.

from tugboatinformation.com

Built in 1975, by Halter Marine of New Orleans, Louisiana (hull #437) as the Frederick E. Bouchard for Bouchard Transportation of Melville, New York.

She is a twin screw tug rated rated at 3,900 horsepower.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Omnivorous, of course, the Frederick E Bouchard has also been personally observed handling non volatile cargos as well. You have to stay busy in the maritime industry, and cargo is cargo. The actual nature of the cargo may change, requiring special handling dictated by custom and regulations, but at the end it’s physics and profit margin that define the mission carried out by maritime professionals.

from auxguidanceskills.info

Law of Gross Tonnage

The law, which is more common sense then explicitly written in the code, goes like this: “The heavier vessel always has the right-of-way.”

This is based on simple Newtonian physics. Newton’s first law talks about objects in motion stay in motion unless another force is acted upon it. In other words, if a boat is moving a 5 mph east and you were in the vacuum of space, it would never stop traveling east at 5 mph. However, we all know when we stop our engine on our boat, we slow down.

How long it takes to go from 5 mph to zero, depends on wind, and current. Even if there was no wind or current, we’d still slow down, because the water itself provides friction upon the hull of the boat, and that in itself acts as a brake.

We all have, by observation found that the bigger the object, the longer it takes to slow down. Newton’s second law of physics talks about how the amount of force required to move an object is inversely proportional to the mass of the object.

So, if a tug and barge were traveling down a narrow channel, and you stopped your boat 1,000 feet away, right in front of the tug and barge; and, if the master of the tug saw you immediately; and if the master of the tug immediately began to stop the tug and barge; you’d have less than one minute to move your vessel.

Because if you didn’t move your vessel in less than 60 small seconds, the tug and barge would just run right over you. It would be impossible for the master of the tug to stop, based of the collective mass of both the vessel and the barge, in 1,000 feet.

The law of gross tonnage is un-relenting. It is a fact of life. What also is a fact of life, is that you should not depend on the master of the tug or any other large vessel is able to see you, either visually or on radar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned at the start of this post, today is Easter Sunday to adherents of the Eastern Orthodox church, but oddly enough, it coincides with a decidedly goddess based celebration which the Roman Empire celebrated called Fordicidia.

from wikipedia

In ancient Roman religion, the Fordicidia was a festival of fertility, held April 15, that pertained to animal husbandry. It involved the sacrifice of a pregnant cow to Tellus, or Mother Earth, in proximity to the festival of Ceres (Cerealia) on April 19.

On the Roman religious calendar, the month of April was in general preoccupied with deities who were female or ambiguous in gender, opening with the Feast of Venus on the Kalends. Several other festivals pertaining to farm life were held in April: the Parilia, or feast of shepherds, on April 21; the Robigalia on April 25, to protect crops from blight; and the Vinalia, or one of the two wine festivals on the calendar, at the end of the month. Of these, the Fordicidia and Robigalia are likely to have been of greatest antiquity. William Warde Fowler, whose early 20th-century work on Roman festivals remains a standard reference, asserted that the Fordicidia was “beyond doubt one of the oldest sacrificial rites in Roman religion.”

vast enclosure

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you cut things down to the bone, and ask yourself the question “Who was the New Yorker that most profoundly changed the City?” it always comes back to one fellow. Ray Kelly or Mike Bloomberg would vie for the crown in modernity, in the long view of history Alexander Hamilton, DeWitt Clinton, Boss Tweed, or the Roebling clan have major claims on the title. Robert Moses would tell you that it was himself, and arguably, so would Osama Bin Laden.

In the opinion of a humble narrator, the crown belongs to one man- a Swedish immigrant named Othmar Ammann, and today is his birthday.

from wikipedia

Othmar Hermann Ammann (March 26, 1879 – September 22, 1965) was a American structural engineer whose designs include the George Washington Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn Bridge has the fame, Williamsburg Bridge the infamy, Manhattan Bridge is overlooked. The bridges of Othmar Ammann, however, are the ones which shaped the modern megalopolis and allowed the expansion and diaspora of New York’s laborers from the tenement neighborhoods of the five boroughs to the suburban satellites of modernity. The vast populations of Long Island and New Jersey and Westchester who commute into the city on a daily basis would have never achieved their current size, were Ammann removed from the story.

As a side note, and just to toot my own horn for a moment, the shot above was published last year in the New York Times- check it out here

Also from wikipedia

Othmar Ammann designed more than half of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of the United States. His talent and ingenuity helped him create the two longest suspension bridges of his time. Ammann was known for being able to create bridges that were light and inexpensive, yet they were still simple and beautiful. He was able to do this by using the deflection theory. He believed that the weight per foot of the span and the cables would provide enough stiffness so that the bridge would not need any stiffening trusses. This made him popular during the depression era when being able to reduce the cost was crucial. Famous bridges by Ammann include:

  • George Washington Bridge (opened October 24, 1931)
  • Bayonne Bridge (opened November 15, 1931)
  • Triborough Bridge (opened July 11, 1936)
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge (opened April 29, 1939)
  • Walt Whitman Bridge (opened May 16, 1957)
  • Throgs Neck Bridge (opened January 11, 1961)
  • Verrazano Narrows Bridge (opened November 21, 1964)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Othmar Ammann was a bit of an artist, his bridges achieving a rare thing for engineering projects, which is the elevation of a functional structure to the sublime. A prevailing theory in fine art and graphic design which emerged in the 20th century is “less is more”, and Ammann’s spans are manifestations of this concept in steel and cement.

from smithsonian.com

By the early 1960s, when the George Washington’s lower deck was added (as specified in the original plans), Ammann had all but eclipsed his mentor. Ammann’s other 1931 creation, the Bayonne Bridge connecting Staten Island and New Jersey, was until 1977 the world’s largest steel arch bridge — more than 600 feet longer than the previous record holder, Lindenthal’s Hell Gate Bridge.

Months before his death in 1965, Ammann gazed through a telescope from his 32nd-floor Manhattan apartment. In his viewfinder was a brand-new sight some 12 miles away: his Verrazano-Narrows suspension bridge. As if in tribute to the engineering prowess that made Ammann’s George Washington Bridge great, this equally slender, graceful span would not be surpassed in length for another 17 years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Eclipsed by the vain and power seeking during his sunset years, Ammann is one of the forgotten few who crafted the connections between the individual components of the archipelago islands of New York Harbor. Mighty Triborough or the graceful arch of the Bayonne Bridge speak to his sense of esthetic, and indicate that he was in touch with some higher imperative than merely moving automobiles from one place to another.

from nytimes.com

His works soar above the water, spanning the city’s rivers and connecting New York to the rest of the country. But who has heard of Othmar H. Ammann?

Donald Trump hadn’t, at least not back in 1964 when he was a high school student and his father took him to the dedication ceremony for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. ”It was a sad experience,” Mr. Trump recalled. ”For years, various politicians had fought the bridge. Now that it was built, I watched as these same people all got up and took credit for it, congratulating themselves and introducing one another. The only one not introduced was the man who made the bridge, Othmar Ammann.

crooked boughs

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Tug, the Gramma Lee T. Moran, was mentioned in a Newtown Pentacle posting of November 26- “loose and displaced“. As it’s one of my favorite tugs in New York Harbor to shoot, I felt a little bad that the starring role in that posting had gone to a cargo ship- and that Gramma Lee T. Moran had to share the second banana position with another Moran Tug- the estimable Marion Moran.

Can’t tell you why I like the esthetics of this ship so much, nor can I say why exactly it always reminds me of the Millennium Falcon (from the Star Wars movies) as it slides along the Kill Van Kull.

from wikipedia

The Kill Van Kull is a tidal strait approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) long and 1,000 feet (305 m) wide separating Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey, USA. The name kill comes from the Middle Dutch word kille, meaning “riverbed” or “water channel.”

Kill Van Kull connects Newark Bay with Upper New York Bay. The Robbins Reef Light marks the eastern end. Historically it has been one of the most important channels for the commerce of the region, providing a passage for marine traffic between Manhattan and the industrial towns of New Jersey. Since the final third of the 20th century, it has provided the principal access for ocean-going container ships to Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, the busiest port facility in the eastern United States and the principal marine terminal for New York Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These two shots are from just a few months ago, captured in the fall of 2011. It’s always odd seeing a tugboat operating without a barge, or tending a larger vessel which can be hundreds of times larger than itself. The majesty of these ships, and their crews, come alive when they are tasked with bearing such sisyphean burdens.

Can you imagine what it must be like guiding a fuel tanker into the narrow Kill Van Kull or down the East River? It must take nerves of steel to muster the confidence needed to Captain such tasks.

from tugboatenthusiastsociety.org

Tugs are “displacement” hull vessels, the hull is designed so water flows around it, there is no consideration for having the vessel “plane”. Because of this the hull form is limited to a maximum speed when running “free” that is about 1.5 times the square root of the waterline length. As the tug approaches this speed when running “free” it is perched between the bow wave and the stern wave. Since the hull cannot plane, application of additional power when approaching maximum hull speed only results in a larger bow wave, with the tug “squatting” further into the trough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above, and the one below are from earlier in 2011- April to be exact.

Moran is a well established company which operates tugs all over North America. A century and a half old, the company’s fleet can be found on the USA’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts and within the Great Lakes, both along the west coast of- and in the Gulf of- Mexico, and within the inland waters of the eastern United States. They’ve been known to operate periodically as far away as the Caribbean Sea and South American waters.

from morantug.com

The LEE T. MORAN is an expression of brute power and utility that belies the refinements of technical engineering below her waterline. There, twin ports are cut into the steel hull to make room for the tug’s Z-drive units. On the floor of the shop they look like the lower units of giant outboard engines. Made by Ulstein, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, the Z-drive functions much like an outboard. Imagine two outboards extending straight down through the hull, each having the ability to rotate 360 degrees. That makes even a heavy, 92-foot tug with a 450-ton displacement very maneuverable. “It can turn on a dime,” says Doughty. “The hull bottom is slightly flatter to adjust to the two drive units. By turning each drive out 90 degrees, the captain can go from full-ahead (14 knots) to a dead stop in no time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s the low slung aspect of the wheelhouse, or the gentle curves observed in its hull… I can’t say, but there is just something pleasing about the design of this boat. A big toot goes out from this, your Newtown Pentacle, to one of my favorite citizens of the NY Harbor- the Gramma Lee T. Moran.

from tugboatinformation.com

Moran Towing began operations in 1860 when founder Michael Moran opened a towing brokerage, Moran Towing and Transportation Company, in New York Harbor. In 1863, the company was transformed from a brokerage into an owner-operator of tugboats when it purchased a one-half interest in the tugboat Ida Miller for $2,700. Over time Moran acquires a fleet of tugboats. It was Michael Moran who painted the first white “M” on a Moran tugboat stack, in 1880.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Happy Birthday, Bayonne Bridge

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Sunday, the first day that the Bayonne Bridge opened for use to the general public was 28,856 days ago, on November 15th, 1931 at 5 A.M.

from a Newtown Pentacle posting of June 26, 2009 (where a few of these photos first appeared)

The fourth largest steel arch bridge on Earth with a height of 150 feet over the water, it connects Bayonne, New Jersey’s Chemical Coastline with Staten Island. It’s primary mission is to allow vehicular traffic access to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel…

The Bayonne Bridge was designed by a man who helped design the Hell Gate rail bridge on the East river- and was principal designer for the Verrazano bridge over the Narrows, The George Washingston Bridge over the Hudson River, the Bronx Whitestone Bridge over the East River, the Throgs Neck Bridge over the East River. He was brought in to simplify the design of mighty Triborough– which is actually a bridge and highway complex spanning multiple waterways and islands. A swede, Othmar Amman worked for Gustavus Lindenthal(designer of the the Queensboro and Hell Gate Bridges), and took over as head bridge engineer at the New York Port Authority in 1925. He also directed the planning and construction of the the Lincoln Tunnel.

He was Robert Moses’s “guy”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A brutal beauty, the elegant parabola of the Bayonne Bridge is not likely to remain unaltered at its centennial.

from wikipedia

The Bayonne Bridge is the fourth longest steel arch bridge in the world, and was the longest in the world at the time of its completion. It connects Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York, spanning the Kill Van Kull.The bridge was designed by master bridge-builder Othmar Ammann and the architect Cass Gilbert. It was built by the Port of New York Authority and opened on November 15, 1931, after dedication ceremonies were held the previous day. The primary purpose of the bridge was to allow vehicle traffic from Staten Island to reach Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A new class of titan ship, the Panamax class cargo carrier, would be stymied from entering Newark Bay and the elaborate port infrastructure which lines its shores by the shallow height of the bridge’s roadway.

from nycroads.com (be sure to click through, and check out the historic photo of the bridge under construction)

Ground was broken for the Bayonne Bridge on September 1, 1928. The span is comprised of a two-hinged, spandrel-braced trussed arch in which the bottom chords form a perfect parabolic arch. As the span’s primary structural members, these manganese-steel chords carry most of the dead load and uniform live load, which is then transferred to the concrete abutments. The span’s top chords (which were constructed from a lighter silicon steel) and web members are stressed by live loads and temperature.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Humorless, the suggestion to lower the water falls on deaf ears amongst those stern and hardened engineers employed by the Port Authority.

from panynj.gov

Initially, the bridge was planned for motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians only. Accordingly, a suspension bridge design was developed since this type of bridge offered the most economical way to engineer a single span across the Kill Van Kull for motor vehicles. However, the suspension scheme was abandoned when the Port Authority commissioners insisted that considerations be made for at least two rail transit tracks to be added at some future date. (Studies showed that adapting a suspension design for rail traffic would be cost-prohibitive.) With rail traffic in mind, the bridge’s chief designer, Othmar H. Ammann, began developing a scheme that spanned the Kill Van Kull with a single, innovative, arch-shaped truss. As with the suspension bridge scheme, Ammann worked on the arch design in partnership with architect Cass Gilbert. The arch bridge that emerged promised to be a remarkably efficient solution, well suited to the site from both an engineering and aesthetic standpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One can only hope that the solution to the Bayonne Bridge’s height issue can be solved in as elegant a fashion as Othmar Ammann’s original design.

from panynj.gov

In 1931 the Port Authority built the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York and sits at the entrance of the Port Authority’s maritime facilities over the Kill Van Kull. Due to the increasing size of vessels, the 151-foot airdraft (the distance from the water’s surface to the underside of the bridge roadway) of the bridge presents a navigational challenge to some vessels today – a challenge that is expected to increase as larger ships transit the Panama Canal after its expansion in 2015. The Port Authority recognizes the importance of developing and maintaining a world class port with deep and clear channels for vessels and the infrastructure to support the movement of cargo.

In order to address this navigational challenge, in 2008 the Port Authority commissioned the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to complete an analysis of the commercial consequences of and the national economic benefits that could be generated by a potential remedy of the Bayonne Bridge’s airdraft restriction. The final report concludes that despite the high cost of possible solutions, the national economic benefits (i.e. the transportation cost savings to the nation) that would result from implementing a remedy would far outweigh the costs. The total project cost of modifying or replacing the bridge could range from $1.3 billionto $3.1 billion and could take ten years or more to complete.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 15, 2010 at 3:05 am

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