Progress of the Rapid Transit Subway (News Items) (1900)
Engineering News and American Railway Journal · Vol. XLII, January-June, 1900.
January 18, 1900. Two bids for the New York Rapid Transit road were received by the Rapid Transit Commission on Jan. 15. John B. McDonald bid $35,000,000 for the whole work, and Andrew Onderdonk offered to build it for $39,300,000. Under the form of proposal the route was divided into four separate parts, as follows: The entire line extends from City Hall to Kingsbridge Station on the north, and to Boston Road and Bronx Park on the east. Section 1: From City Hall up Elm St. and 4th Ave., and by way of 42d St. and Broadway to 59th St. Section 2: from 59th St. to 140th St. and Broadway, and from 103d St. and Broadway, under 104th St. and part of Central Park to 110th St., then under Lenox Ave. to 135th St. Section 3: The West Side road from 140th St. to Fort George; and the East Side road from 135th St., under the Harlem River, to Bergen Ave. Section 4: The [elevated] extensions of both the East and West Side lines to their terminals. From City Hall to 103d St. the line is to have four tracks, and above that, on each side, three tracks; the loop around City Hall would have two tracks, to connect later with a line down Broadway. Mr. McDonald's proposition was to build section 1 for $15,000,000; 1 and 2 for $26,000,000; 1, 2 and 3 for $32,000,000, and the whole for $35,000,000. Mr. Onderdonk proposed to build section 1 for $17,000,000; 1 and 2 for $28,000,000; 1, 2 and 3 for $35,500,000, and the whole for $39,300,000. Under the clause asking bids for rental beyond the interest charges fixed by law, Mr. Onderdonk offered to pay 5% of the first million of gross annual receipts, when. these should exceed $5,000,000, and 2.5% additional for each million additional, until the whole premium should amount to 15% on the surplus above $5,000,000 gross annual receipts. The terms of the contract require the contractor to give a bond for $1,000,000, to continue in force during the whole 50 years of lease, and another bond for $5,000,000 to be released on completion of contract. The city agrees to give the contractor all facilities, and is to acquire for him all real estate needed for terminals, etc., and to pay for all real estate and the cost of the terminals with 10% profit to the contractor. The lease of the road is to begin with the completion for operation of each section, and is to continue for 50 years. At the end of that time the lease may be renewed for 25 years, at a rental not less than that paid in the last ten years of the lease. The lessee is to pay as rental all the interest on the bonds issued by the city for building the road, and the interest on the bonds issued to pay interest during construction; and in addition to this 1% per annum. on the whole sum for a sinking fund; provided, that the profits be sufficient to allow the lessee to pay himself 5% on the sum he has invested in the road and its equipment; this equipment is estimated to cost $7,000,000 to $8,000,000. The road must be operated by other power than steam, and this power will doubtless be electric. All the lower part of the line will be underground. On Jan. 16 the Rapid Transit Commission awarded to John B. McDonald the contract for the construction and operation of the whole rapid transit line as given above.
January 25, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs have made satisfactory progress during the week which has passed since the contract was awarded for its construction. According to the terms of the contract, the successful bidder must furnish one bond amounting to $1,000,000, to continue during 50 years; another of $5,000,000, to insure the satisfactory performance of the construction, and must make a deposit of $1,000,000 in cash. The time allowed for qualifying by furnishing these bonds is ten days from Jan. 16, which time may be extended ten days longer, if necessary. Failure to qualify will cause the forfeiture of the bidder's certified check of $150,000. The work must be finished in 4.5 years. Briefly summarized, it comprises the following items:
|Length of all sections, ft.||109,570|
|Total excavation of earth, cu. yds.||1,700,228|
|Earth to be filled back, cu. yds.||773,093|
|Rock excavated, cu. yds.||921,128|
|Rock tunneled, cu. yds.||368,606|
|Steel used in structures, tons||65,044|
|Cast iron used, tons||7,901|
|Concrete, cu. yds.||489,122|
|Brick, cu. yds.||18,519|
|Waterproofing, sq. yds.||775,795|
|Vault lights, sq. yds.||6,640|
|Track, total, lin. ft.||305,380|
|Track, underground, lin. ft.||245,514|
|Track, elevated, lin. ft.||59,766|
The contractor, John B. McDonald, whose bid of $35,000,000 was accepted by the Rapid Transit Commission on Jan. 16, as stated in our last issue, announces that work will be begun soon after the contract has been signed, and that excavation will be carried on at numerous points along the line. at the same time. The intention is to sublet a large portion of the work and it is stated that contracts as small as for a single block of the tunnel will be sublet.
The Rapid Transit Commission has taken under consideration the extension of the line to the Battery and thence to South Brooklyn. It also has a bill before the New York Legislature to amend the original rapid transit act so that the City Comptroller may issue the bonds for construction without the consent or concurrence of the Municipal Assembly of New York city.
The engineering staff of the Rapid Transit Commission of New York is not yet organized, and will not be for some weeks. And for the benefit of engineers and others applying for places thereon, Chief Engineer W. B. Parsons, M. Am. Soc. C. E., has issued a notice stating that these positions will only be filled after examination of the applicant by the New York Civil Service Commission.
February 1, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs continue in an uncertain state. On Jan. 25 the successful bidder for the contract, Mr. John B. McDonald, of New York, requested from the Rapid Transit Commission an extension of time in which to qualify. The terms of qualification required, as stated in our last issue, are that the contractor must deposit $1,000,000 in cash, a $1,000,000 continuing bond, and a $5,000,000 construction bond. One reason for the delay which has been requested, is stated to be that the various surety companies have demanded what Mr. McDonald claims to be an exorbitant fee for guaranteeing the two bonds, aggregating $6,000,000, and he requires more time, to adjust matters with the surety companies or to secure bonds elsewhere. Another reason given is that the surety companies object to bonding an individual for such great sums for so long a period of time owing to the complications which would arise in case of his death. They are willing, however, to give such bonds for a construction company whose life, of course, continues even should the principal member die. It is now stated that a construction company will be formed and that its financial affairs will be in the hands of the banking house of August Belmont & Co., of New York city. The bill to amend the original rapid transit act so that the City Comptroller may issue the bonds for construction without the concurrence of the New York Municipal Assembly, has passed the New York Legislature. This bill must be approved by the Mayor of New York city and signed by the Governor of the State before it becomes a law.
February 8, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs are still in an unsettled condition. The contractor, Mr. John B. McDonald, whose difficulty with the security companies in the matter of bonds was briefly noted in our last issue, has discontinued negotiations with them, and, on Feb. 6, asked and received from the Rapid Transit Commission a further extension of time, to arrange for bonds elsewhere. Mr. McDonald's formal application for further time explains briefly the reasons which have caused the delay, as follows:
"Circumstances have made it necessary for me to apply to your honorable body for a further extension of time in which to furnish the securities required by the contract to construct and operate the rapid transit railroad. When I made my bid I had what I believed to be satisfactory assurances that they (the three surety companies named in the bid) would go on my bond in case the contract was awarded to me. But when, after the award, I renewed my application to them, I found them disposed to impose conditions which were unexpected and much more onerous than I had anticipated when I named them as sureties in my proposal. Negotiations lasting over ten days resulted in the statement of the companies of requirements which I deemed unreasonable, and with which, on short notice, I was not prepared to comply. They were finally unwilling to execute the sureties unless cash or its equivalent representing the full amount of their bonds was practically set apart for them. On the 31st instant I notified the companies that it was useless to continue negotiations on those lines, and since that time I have been planning to substitute other sureties in their place and stead. I feel reasonably certain of providing such substitutes within a reasonable time, providing that the commission will grant me a further extension of -- [omitted in the article] days."
Upon the showing made by this letter and Mr. McDonald's verbal evidence, the Rapid Transit Commission, on Feb. 6, extended the time within which he should qualify until Feb. 20. It, at the same time, formally rejected the bid of Mr. Andrew Onderdonk, the only other bidder for the work, and ordered his guarantee check of $150,000 to be returned. It is stated that Mr. McDonald's present plans include the formation of a construction company, whose capital stock, paid up in cash, shall be a part of the security given for Mr. McDonald, and its bonds, and, perhaps, the individual signatures of stockholders, will make up the rest. It is proposed that even his continuing bond of $1,000,000 shall be represented by part cash or securities and the $5,000,000 construction bond will be represented by perhaps half cash or securities. If any question should arise as to the sufficiency of the security offered, as contemplated by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, an application will be made to that court to pass upon it, and it is understood that the members of the court are in full accord with the commission. The financial details of the arrangement are entirely in the hands of August Belmont & Co.
The bill to amend the original Rapid Transit Act so that the City Comptroller may issue the bonds for construction without the concurrence of the New York Municipal Assembly has been signed by the Mayor of New York city and is now in the hands of the Governor for signature, when it will become a law.
Since the above was put in type Mr. McDonald and August Belmont & Co. have submitted a list of the securities by which they propose to secure the bond required by the Rapid Transit Commission, and it is stated that the latter body has signified its satisfaction with them. It now seems reasonably certain that Mr. McDonald will formally qualify for the contract before Feb. 20.
February 15, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway matters have reached a more settled condition since our last issue was published. Under the arrangement agreed to by the Rapid Transit Commission, respecting the securities required of the successful contractor, Mr. John B. McDonald, August Belmont & Co., proposes: To organize a corporation with a capital of $6,000,000; to secure deposit of 20% of this capital on organization, 20% on May 1, 20% on Nov. 1, and the balance as called; to enter into contract with Mr. McDonald to promote the construction of the tunnel road; to accept the proposal of the board to secure from the Appellate Division a modification of the requirements by striking out the provision requiring construction sureties to qualify in double the amount of liability, and by reducing the minimum amount to be taken by each surety from $500,000 to $250,000; to arrange that Mr. McDonald is to furnish the $1,000,000 continuing bond with sureties who will justify in double that amount; to await the passage of an act of the legislature amending the rapid transit act by permitting the deposit of securities satisfactory to the board and of the value of $1,000,000 in lieu of the continuing bond; to execute as surety Mr. McDonald's bond to secure the performance of the contract for construction to the amount of $4,000,000, which will be accepted by the board; to cause the $1,000,000 cash required by the contract to be deposited with the Comptroller; and, as additional security to the city, to cause the beneficial interest in the bonds to be required of sub-contractors to be assigned to the city so far as may be necessary. Summarized, therefore, the city will have in hand at once in cash and securities for the execution of the contract $8,000,000 instead of the $7,000,000 required under the call for bids.
This is made up as follows:
|Bond from McDonald||$1,000,000|
|Bond from company||$4,000,000|
|Bond from surety companies||$1,000,000|
|Cash from company||$1,000,000|
|Cash from company||$1,000,000|
We are informed by Mr. McDonald that matters will be in such condition that be will be ready to confer some time next week with persons who may wish to make sub-contracts for doing portions of the work.
February 22, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs have progressed favorably since our last issue. On Feb. 16 the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court granted the modifications in the contract which were asked for by August Belmont & Co. These modifications were that the sureties be released from the necessity of qualifying in twice the amount of bonds required, only qualifying in the actual sum called for, and also that the minimum amount required from the surety companies be reduced from $500,000 to $250,000. The four surety companies that are to take up the $1,000,000 of the $5,000,000 construction bond will therefore qualify in $250,000 each. The remaining sums will be furnished by the Belmont syndicate and the contractor on the lines indicated in our issue of Feb. 15. The next task to be accomplished before the contract can be signed is to organize officially the proposed construction company, and August Belmont & Co. have asked the Rapid Transit Commission for a further delay of ten days in which to do this. This extension will undoubtedly be granted.
March 1, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs reached a satisfactory conclusion during the past week. On Feb. 19 articles of incorporation of the Rapid Transit Subway Co. were filed at Albany, N. Y. The company was incorporated with a capital stock of $6,000,000, and was organized with the following officers: President, August Belmont; Vice-President, Walter G. Oakman; Treasurer, Wm. C. Emmett, and Secretary, Frederick Evans. On Feb. 24 Mr. John B. McDonald, the successful bidder, signed the contract for constructing the road and deposited the required $6,000,000 bond. Mr. Charles Sooysmith, M. Am. Soc. C. E., will be the engineer to the contractor. Mr. Geo. S. Rice, M. Am. Soc. C. E., has been appointed deputy chief engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission, of which Mr. Wm. B. Parsons, M. Am. Soc. C. E., is Chief Engineer. A special committee of the commission is now at work formulating an organization for the remainder of its engineering staff. At the meeting of the commission on Feb. 26 a resolution was passed requiring,
"That the chief engineer investigate, and report to this board his opinion as to, the practicability and cost of an extension of the rapid transit railroad from the City Hall to the South Ferry, and thence under the East River to the Borough of Brooklyn; and for the purpose of such investigation the chief engineer may employ assistants and incur expense, subject to, the approval of the president of the board, to an amount not exceeding $10,000."
At the same meeting the commission also passed a resolution making requisition on the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of New York city "for the authorization of the full amount of corporate stock of the city of New York sufficient to pay the entire estimated expense" of the road, which is $36,500,000, made up of Mr. McDonald's bid of $35,000,000 for construction, a further sum of $1,000,000 for terminals and of $500,000 for real estate. Another resolution was passed informing the contractor that the work of construction must be commenced within 30 days from the signing of the contract, or before March 26. A joint committee of the New York Municipal Assembly has been appointed to make plans for a formal ceremony to celebrate the commencement of work, and the indications are that this ceremony will be set for March 17.
March 8, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway affairs have witnessed two important developments during the past week. On March 2 the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of New York city authorized the issue of $36,500,000 of bonds to pay for the construction of the road. These bonds will be issued from time to time in such amounts as may be necessary. The contractor, Mr. John B. McDonald, has also formally turned his contract over to the Subway Construction Co., of which Mr. August Belmont is President, as noted in our last issue. This company will have its offices in the Ivins Syndicate Building, 15 Park Row, New York city. Proposals for constructing 15 sections of the road are being asked, as noted in our advertising columns this week.
March 15, 1900. New York underground rapid transit railway matters have progressed favorably during the past week. The committee of the Municipal Assembly who are arranging the programme for the celebration of the formal commencement of the work have settled upon March 24 as the date. The Rapid Transit Commission has introduced a bill into the New York State Legislature which will amend the present rapid transit act so as to establish beyond question the Commission's authority to plan and build extensions of the tunnel to Brooklyn and the other outlying boroughs of the city. In view of the Commission's decision, which was announced in our last issue, to make surveys for an extension to Brooklyn, the Long Island R. R. Co. has withdrawn its application for a franchise to extend its road by tunnel to Manhattan, as described in Engineering News of May 18, 1899. The reasons given by the railway company for its action is that a private corporation cannot compete with a tunnel railway built at the public expense.
March 22, 1900. The cost of subways for pipes and wires alongside a portion of the New York Rapid Transit route has been roughly estimated by Mr. Wm. Barclay Parsons, M. Am. Soc. C. E., Chief Engineer, as $850,000. Subways would be practicable only from Worth St. to 33d St., but for that distance they might be made available for all existing subsurface structures, and for the future needs of many years. The Rapid Transit Commission, on March 16, instructed Mr. Parsons:
"to report at the next meeting relative to the necessity under now existing circumstances of constructing pipe galleries along the line of the subway in the portion thereof for which such galleries have been provided in the general plans, and as to the estimated cost of such work if done as extra work under the provisions of the contract of Feb. 21, 1900, with John B. McDonald."
March 29, 1900. The New York Underground Rapid Transit Railway was formally placed under construction on March 24 and actual construction was begun by one of the sub-contractors on March 26. The formal opening of the work on March 24 consisted in the digging of the first shovelful of earth by Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck, the fixing of a memorial tablet to mark the spot and the reading of speeches by the Mayor and Mr. Alex. E. Orr, President of the Rapid Transit Commission. Actual work was begun on March 26 by Mr. James Pilkington, who has the subcontract to lower the large main sewer crossing the line of the road at Bleecker St., from its present depth of 14 ft. to a depth of 21 ft. The length of sewer to be altered will be 900 ft. At the meeting of the Rapid Transit Commission on March 22 a resolution was passed authorizing the President and Secretary of the Commission to issue to the contractor all directions and permits for opening the streets in prosecuting his work. At the same meeting the Chief Engineer reported that the cost of pipe galleries in Elm St., from Worth St. to Astor Place, would be about $425,000. Following this report a resolution was drawn up notifying the contractor,
"that this Board requires from the contractor the performance of additional work and the furnishing of additional material as follows: The construction along Elm St., extending from the lower side of Worth St. to the north side of Astor Place, of galleries for the accommodation of the pipes, wires, sewers, and other subsurface structures necessary to be removed or disturbed in the course of the construction of the Rapid Transit Railroad along such part of Elm St., such galleries to be constructed pursuant to the general plan and the detailed plans and specifications to be furnished by the Chief Engineer of the Board, as hereinafter provided; that the Chief Engineer is ordered further to prepare detailed plans and specifications for such galleries, which shall be approved by this Board before such requisition from the contractor, and copies of which shall be transmitted to the contractor therewith."
Owing to the absence of three of the members of the Commission action on this resolution was postponed until the next meeting.
April 19, 1900. Rapid Transit Tunnel sub-contracts have been awarded as follows: Carnegie Steel Co. is to furnish the 72,955 tons of structural steel and iron to be used; the Sicilian Asphalt Co. will lay 775,795 sq. yds. of asphalt water-proofing, and the United Building Material Co. will furnish the Portland and other cement. To the Degnon-McLean Construction Co. is awarded Sections 1 and 2, including the post-office loop to Chambers St. and Chambers to Great Jones, on Elm St., for $1,250,000 and $2,000,000, including in the latter $500,000 for shifting sewers and $100,000 for shifting 36-in. main and other water pipe. Mr. E. J. Farrell has Section 7, from 103d to 110th St. and Lenox Ave.; and Section 8, from 110th St. to 100 ft. beyond 135th St. and Lenox Ave.; the two bids approximate $1,600,000, including for this 4,100 ft. of rock tunnel. Mr. John C. Rogers has Section 9, joining the Farrell contract, going under the Harlem River and then east to Brook Ave.; the price is about $2,000,000. Mr. John Shields has Section 11, from 104th St. to 125th St.; no price named. Mr. L. B. McCabe has Section 13, from 133d St. to 181st St., and Section 14, from 181st St. to Hillside Ave. The sub-contracts for Sections 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10, 12 are not yet announced.
The New York Rapid Transit Commission has its authority extended to the entire territory of Greater New York by a bill approved by Mayor Van Wyck on April 13. This will enable the Commission to undertake the proposed tunnel railways under the East River to Brooklyn. A bill permitting the refunding of $8,000,O00 of county bonds now in the Sinking Fund was approved on the same date and will provide funds for the proposed tunnel.
May 17, 1900. The beginning of excavation on the direct line of the New York Underground Rapid Transit Railway was celebrated on May 14, when Corporation Counsel Whalen removed the first shovelful of earth at Broadway and 156th St., and speeches were delivered by Mr. Wm. Barclay Parsons, M. Am. Soc. C. E., Chief Engineer, Rapid Transit Commission Contractor Mr. John B. McDonald, and others prominently connected with the work. The place at which work was begun is on sub-contract section No. 13, for which Mr. L. B. McCabe has the contract. The work was continued by a force of men on May 15.
Applicants for the positions of Assistant Engineers on the staff of the Rapid Transit Commission have been numerous. At the civil service examination for these positions, held on May 14, 101 applicants competed, and it was announced that 100 other applicants, who could not then be accommodated, would be examined at a later date. There will be three grades of Assistant Engineers employed, carrying salaries of $1,200, $1,500 and $1,800, respectively.
May 24, 1900. CONTRACTS AND QUANTITIES IN THE NEW YORK RAPID TRANSIT RAILWAY WORK. The awarding of the subcontracts for the New York rapid transit railway work during the last few weeks furnishes a striking illustration of the enormous quantities of labor and engineering material which will be consumed in carrying this great project to completion. On April 16 the Carnegie Steel Co. took the contract to manufacture 74,326 tons of structural steel and about 4,000 tons of steel rails for this work. The same day a contract was also awarded to the United Building Material Co. to supply to the same work 1,500,000 barrels of cement. These contracts are, respectively, the largest, we believe, that were ever undertaken, by individual firms for supplying cement and steel for a single engineering work. Up to the present time other individual contracts for the same work have been awarded, the figures for which are, respectively, $1,125,000, $2,000,000, $1,600,000, $2,000,000, and these include only a part of the contracts which have been or will be awarded before the whole road is brought under construction. Something of a mental effort is required, as we read over these large numbers to realize fully that they represent merely the items of labor, quantities and expenditure, which combine to make up a single engineering work. For most persons, indeed, some further analysis is necessary in order to comprehend their entire purport.
Of the two contracts for supplying structural material, which have been mentioned particularly, that undertaken by the Carnegie Steel Co. is in some respects the most notable. According to the itemized statement which has been published this contract requires the Carnegie Works to manufacture 22,439 tons of steel beams, 20,466 tons of riveted steelwork, 7,921 tons of steel columns, 23,500 tons of steel viaduct, and 4,064 tons of steel rails, or a total of 78,390 tons of finished steelwork. It has already been stated that this is the largest contract for steel ever undertaken by a single steel-maker for a single engineering work. It is as much steel as would be required to lay 556 miles of railway track with 80-lb. rails. The ordinary pin-connected single track railway bridge of 200 ft. span will weigh approximately 135 tons, so that no less than 580 such bridges could be built with the steel which will be manufactured for the rapid transit road.
Comparing these figures with another class of bridge work, we find the nearest approach to them in the amount of steel employed in constructing the Forth Bridge in Scotland. In this great structure, with its two 1,700-ft. spans and total length of 5,310 ft., exclusive of approaches, about 58,000 long tons of steel were used. Approximately 3,200 tons more were required for the approaches, making a total of 61,200 long tons, or 73,440 short tons, of steel consumed in the entire work. As will be seen, this total amount falls about 1,000 tons short of the 74,326 tons of structural steel required for the rapid transit railway. With the steel which will go into the rapid transit tunnel, therefore, the engineer could duplicate the greatest bridge superstructure in the world, and have nearly a thousand tons of material left over, or enough to build another Atbara Bridge for the British war operations in the Soudan.
A fact which should not fail to be observed, however, in comparing the supply of steel for these two structures is that: while the steel for the Forth Bridge was made by several manufacturers, that for the rapid transit railway will, as already stated, be manufactured by one firm. Nevertheless the contract of the Steel Works of Scotland to manufacture 38,000 long tons of steel for the Forth Bridge was until the present rapid transit railway contract probably the largest one ever undertaken by a single steel-maker for a single structure. Indeed, the contract was in some respects a more noteworthy one than that of the Carnegie company for the rapid transit road. In 1887, when the Forth Bridge contract was undertaken, steel was not the universally used material that it is today. For most structural work wrought iron had the preference among engineers. Iron had been used throughout for the Brooklyn Bridge, completed a few years before, except, of course, in the main cable and suspender construction, and the great Eiffel Tower, with its 7,300 tons of metal, was built entirely of wrought and cast iron.
The building of the Memphis Bridge, which is [after] the Forth Bridge, the largest cantilever bridge in the world, required 8,160 tons of steel. All but about 1,200 tons of this steel was made by the Carnegie Steel Co., under several contracts with the various shops which did the structural work. The bridge and viaduct work for the Pittsburg, Bessemer & Lake Erie and Union railways completed in 1898, consumed 22,096 tons of structural steel, all of which was manufactured and erected by the Carnegie Steel Co. Neither of the two works last mentioned come at all near the Forth Bridge or the rapid transit railway in the amount of steel consumed, although in the general run of steel bridge work they would both be reckoned as rather notable structures for the tonnage of steel employed. In tall steel skeleton building construction the record for the greatest tonnage of steel used is held by the Ivins Syndicate Building in New York, in the manufacture of whose framework 9,000 tons were employed, or more than was required to build the Memphis Bridge superstructure. To summarize briefly, the structural steel needed for the rapid transit railway work would build the Memphis Bridge, all the bridges and viaducts for the Pittsburg, Bessemer & Lake Erie and Union railways, and come within 1,000 tons of completing five buildings of the size of the Ivins Syndicate Building, which covers an area of 15,000 sq. ft. in plan and is 30 stories high.
Next to the Forth Bridge the largest bridge structure upon which actual construction has ever been undertaken is the New East River Bridge, now being erected at New York city. This structure, according to the engineers' calculations, will consume 47,000 tons of steel of all kinds. Of this total amount 5,000 tons will be employed in the cables, suspenders and their fittings, and approximately a couple thousand tons more will be in the form of castings. Fully 40,000 tons of the metalwork of the bridge will, therefore, be high-class structural steelwork. While the contracts for this work have been divided among several persons, the requirements of the engineer for acid steel of a particular quality. has so far necessitated the purchase of all of the material from a single maker who stands in the best position to produce it in the large quantities required. The largest single contract so far let has been that awarded to the New Jersey Steel & Iron Co., for manufacturing and erecting the towers and end spans containing 12,225 tons of riveted steelwork. The contract which stands next in size is that recently awarded to the John A. Roebling's Sons' Co. for the 5,000 tons of cable and suspender work. This is probably the largest contract for supplying high quality wire for suspension bridge cable work ever undertaken by a single firm.
While the subject of the consumption of steel in long span bridge structures is in mind, it is interesting to notice briefly the estimated weights of the steelwork for the two bridges which have been proposed to cross the Hudson River at New York city. The older of these bridges [plans], which, as many of our readers will recall, is a stiffened suspension bridge of 3,100 ft. span, designed by Mr. Gustav Lindenthal, M. Am. Soc. C. E., is estimated to require 150,000 tons of steel to construct. The second structure [planned], a cantilever bridge, with a center span of 3,000 ft., it was estimated would consume fully 200,000 tons of steel.
Returning to the steel contract for the rapid transit railway, the fact that a single American steel works stands ready o-day to undertake such a contract in the ordinary run of business, must strike anyone who gives it a little thought as a remarkable illustration of the development of the steel industry in this country, and, indirectly, of the magnitude to which individual aggregations of capital and plant have grown in this industry. The rapidity with which this growth has been reached is quite as impressive as the size which it has attained. Less than twenty years ago the announcement that a contract of the character and proportions which have been described had been undertaken by a single steel works would have been received with incredulity. By English steel-makers alone would the accomplishment of such a task have been considered even remotely possible. Every year scores of articles are published to show the vast proportions which have been attained by the steel works of the United States, but we doubt if many of them can claim to present the fact more forcibly than the readiness and ease with which this single order for steel was placed by the builders of the rapid transit railway. The illustration becomes still more impressive when we remember that there are several steel manufacturers in the United States capable of carrying out successfully a contract of this magnitude in the ordinary course of business.
The important factor which steel has become in the work of the constructing engineer is strikingly presented by what has been said. Probably no manufactured material more justly deserves to rank second in his work than hydraulic cement. If we take the rapid transit railway work as a criterion this is certainly the case. It has already been stated that the contract for supplying cement for this road is the largest ever undertaken by a single firm for a single engineering work. In round figures this contract calls for 1,500,000 barrels, or approximately 300,000 tons of cement. Of this total amount about 1,250,000 barrels will be Portland cement. The significance of these figures is perhaps best made plain by a few comparative statements. In 1896, or say five years ago, all the Portland cement works of the United States had an annual output of less than 1,000,000 barrels, and in 1886, or fifteen years ago, less Portland cement was consumed annually in the United States than will be used in this one piece of work. In 1899 the production of Portland cement by American makers was in round figures 5,000,000 barrels, and in addition about 2,250,000 barrels more were imported to supply the consumption. On the basis of their output for 1899, therefore, it would require the almost continuous operation of all the cement works of the United States for three months to turn out the amount of Portland cement which will be employed in the rapid transit railway work.
The great bulk of the 1,500,000 barrels of cement supplied to the rapid transit work will be consumed in making concrete for the foundations and the lining of the tunnel sections. Altogether about 490,000 cu. yds. of concrete will be employed for this purpose. To make this concrete the cement must be mixed with from 2 to 2.5 times its bulk of sand, and from 4 to 6 times its bulk of broken stone. Together the concrete and the steel may be fairly said to represent the rapid transit structure in the raw state. The amount of other structural material which will be used is insignificant in comparison. Outside of the cost of the manufactured steel and concrete, therefore, the bulk of the expenditure for the rapid transit railway will be for labor.
Compared with the cost of the labor the cost of the materials going to make up the rapid transit railway is small. Some idea of the magnitude of this item of labor has already been given by the figures of cost of the contracts for construction which have been awarded. Expressed in quantities of work to be done it involves the excavation of 1,700,000 cu. yds. of earth and 1,290,000 cu. yds. of rock; the removal of all this material except 773,000 cu. yds. of earth, which will have to be filled back into the excavation, from the line of the work; the laying of 775,000 sq. yds., or about 160 acres, of waterproofing; the laying of 57 miles of railway track, and the placing of 490,000 cu. yds. of concrete as some of the principal items, besides the erection of 74,326 tons of structural steelwork.
It requires only a cursory consideration of the figures which have been given to show the practical advantages which existed in dividing the rapid transit railway work into a number of independent contracts. In the first place the different kinds of work, such as viaduct, rock tunneling, earth tunneling, submarine tunneling, open cut excavation, could be let to contractors whose previous experience in similar work fitted them particularly to conduct it successfully in the present case. The subdivision, moreover, made it possible for contractors, with moderate capital and backing, to undertake contracts small enough to be within their means and ability to handle without danger of failure. In case of the failure of an individual contractor to carry out his work satisfactorily, necessitating possibly a re-letting, there is a set-back only to that portion of the work which he is doing, the work on the neighboring sections being unaffected by the delay. By subletting the work, also, it was brought within the reach of a larger number of contractors, and the advantages of a more widespread competition was secured.
In conclusion, it deserves to be noted that the general contract for constructing and operating the rapid transit railway is one of the largest ever undertaken by a single company. Indeed, we cannot recall off-hand any other contract comparable to it in all respects in the history of modern engineering works.
June 28, 1900. Work on the New York Rapid Transit Railway is now in progress in a number of places. On the tunnel proper work is being done at three points uptown. The removal of sewers, quite as important from an engineering point of view, is partially completed down town. The greatest activity for the next few months will take place on the Boulevard and Lenox Ave. Chief Engineer W. B. Parsons states that by September the work of excavating will be progressing at many places, from the upper end of the route clear down to Sixtieth St. Between 120th and 122d Sts. the work is being carried on rapidly from 120th St. toward 104th St. The roots of all the trees from 122d to 120th Sts. have been cut off close to the curb. McCabe & Brother, who have the sub-contracts for the two northernmost sections of the western branch of the road, extending from 125th St. to the northern terminus, have begun work at two points between 133d and 138th Sts. and between 155th and 158th Sts. The work at 133d St. has been temporarily suspended, while some of the drawings for stone work were being prepared. Between 155th St. and 158th St. Contractor McCabe is drilling through rock, large forces of men being employed night and day. They are working from 155th St. north and from 158th St. south to a central point near 157th St. From 158th St. Mr. McCabe will work north. He has already obtained a permit to sink the shaft at 181st St., and this will be the next work he will undertake. Farrell & Hopper, who have the contract for the section on the eastern branch extending from the junction at 140th St. east under the park and up Lenox Ave. to 116th St., will begin work immediately. They have obtained a permit to work between 110th and 116th Sts., and their first excavation will be at 110th St. The relaying of sewers, which in some parts of the town is preliminary to any work on the tunnel itself, is progressing well. Work on three sewers is now being carried on. It will be commenced on another within a short time, and was completed on two this week. James Pilkington is now at work on the Oliver St. sewer, which is one mile long. It will not be finished for a considerable time. Cunningham & Kearns are working on the Mulberry and East Twenty-second St. sewers. At 110th St. there is a sewer which will soon be moved out of the way of the tunnel. The two completed sewers are those in Bleecker and Tenth Sts.