April 26, 2013
Shoreline Track Work Underway to Stabilize Embankment
Planned Before Superstorm Sandy
In the Hudson Highlands, where the cliffs jut straight up from the river, Metro-North's Hudson Line tracks sit on a thin rocky ledge that was blasted from the rock more than a century ago.
This scenic section of track just north of Peekskill is prone to rock slides and washouts and the tracks are monitored by a pair of thin wires that measure geologic shifts, one little slip at a time.
When the rock under the tracks falls away into the river, little by little, as it occasionally does, an alarm sounds and track gangs are quickly dispatched to shore up the rails by adding stone.
Now, as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Capital Program, an $8.6 million effort is underway to stabilize for decades to come.
The work was planned long before last fall’s Super Storm Sandy inundated 30 miles of the Hudson Line causing erosion to the track bed and damage to the tracks and signal systems. The project design by Geo Design of Middlebury, CT, was completed last year.
“This is Metro-North’s first major bank stabilization project along the Hudson River and has been in the planning stages for several years,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “You might think that it is a result of Superstorm Sandy, which flooded 30 miles of track, but it’s not. However, the type of work we are doing here is similar to several projects soon to be undertaken elsewhere along the right of way. This kind of reinforcement is critical to protect the tracks from future storm-related erosion.”
With permits in hand from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard and concurrence of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Metro-North is drilling a row of four-foot diameter, 45-foot-deep shafts into the ground just above the high tide line. Then in the center of each, a smaller drill will anchor an even deeper core beam in bedrock. Then each ring will be filled with concrete. The row of rings will be linked together with concrete panels for a total length of 114 feet.
Due to the extremely challenging terrain, all the work is being done from barges in the river and all tailings from the huge drills are being removed by barge. To minimize impact on train operations, the work is taking place on weekdays in the off-peak hours when the track closest to the river is taken out of service.
A $6 million contract was awarded to Kiewit Infrastructure Co. of Woodcliff Lake, NJ. The project will be completed this fall. There are incentives in the contract to reduce the number of weekend track outages, which will save the railroad money on flagging and minimize impacts on the newly beefed up weekend Hudson Line train service.