Rehabbing the Underground Railroad

by George B. Morschauser, (M.ASCE), Project Mgr.; Kaiser Engineers, New York, NY,
Steven C. Banks, (M.ASCE), Assoc.; Envirodyne Engineers, New York, NY,
Peter M. Schidrich, Dir. Const. Mgmt.; Metro-North Commuter Railroad, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 4, Pg. 56-59

Document Type: Feature article


The Park Ave. Railroad Tunnel brings three commuter rail lines into New York City's Grand Central Station. The four tracks occupy three tubes from 97th St. to 57th St., where they begin to fan out to 10 tracks. One part of the tunnel dates back to 1831, and the rest to 1874 when street level tracks were lowered in cut-and-cover construction. During the current rehabilitation project, more than 500 daily trains, street traffic above and the web of utility lines below must be kept in service. Today's design engineers had never before seen some of the many 19th Century designs and construction methods that require structural remediation. One example is the jack arch roofs where wrought iron beams and shallow brick arches are reinforced with new steel beams and concrete. In other parts of the tunnel, new concrete slab roofs require that the invert and tracks be lowered to maintain headroom. Bringing these up to meet the original trackage at 57th St. required a temporary bridge to carry street loads to the tunnel walls while work proceeded below.

Subject Headings: Tunnels | Railroad stations | Streets | Steel beams | Rehabilitation | Underground structures | Subways | Rail transportation | New York | United States

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