Operation of the White Plains Road Line (1917)

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Public Service Record · Vol. IV, No. 3, March 1917.

Operation of the White Plains Road Line.

Residents of Williamsbridge and adjacent sections of The Bronx are now enjoying rapid transit as a result of the Commission's policy of opening portions of the new lines of the Dual System as they are completed. Under this policy a part of the White Plains Road extension of the First Subway, as far as 219th Street, which reaches the sections mentioned, was placed in service at 2:30 P. M., Saturday, March 3, with appropriate exercises and amid much enthusiasm on the part of those for whom the opening of this line means vastly improved transportation facilities.

Another portion of the line, to 238th Street, will be opened shortly. Between the 238th and 241st Street stations, however, the line is to undergo certain reconstruction in connection with the approaches for the 239th Street storage and inspection yard which is now under construction by the Commission, so that it will be several months before the entire line is in operation.

Slow deliveries of materials and inability to obtain sufficient labor conditions prevalent upon practically all of the Commission's rapid transit contracts made it possible to open the new line upon the scheduled date only by the greatest effort put forth by the Commission's engineers in completing the construction work and by the engineers of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in installing the third rail and other equipment. Owing to the conditions above mentioned it was impossible to begin running test trains until March 2.

Hard Task for Engineers. The twenty-four hours before the opening represented almost steady work on the part of the Commission's engineers and those of the Interborough in order to complete the work. While Mr. Turner, Acting Chief Engineer, and Mr. Ridgway, Engineer of Subway Construction, were in general direction of the work of preparing the line for the opening, immediate details were in charge of Mr. Robert H. Jacobs, head of the Division of Track Construction, and Mr. Jasper T. Kane, head of the Station Finish Division. Engineers of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in charge of the operating equipment are also entitled to their share of credit for the way in which the work was pressed to completion.

The company found it impossible to obtain necessary materials for the completion of the equipment of rolling stock intended for use on the White Plains Road line. It thus became necessary to install temporarily on this line some of the composite cars removed from the First Subway last year. Arrangements were also made for a temporary current supply sufficient to institute service as far as 219th Street.

The first and official train over the line consisted of four of these composite cars which left the West Farms station of the First Subway at 2:30 P. M. For the present until the equipment of the rolling stock and different power arrangements are completed, operation will be by trains of composite cars running from the 177th Street station of the West Farms branch of the First Subway.

The official train was crowded with representatives of the City government, members and representatives of the Public Service Commission, Interborough Rapid Transit Company officials and members of the Joint Rapid Transit Committee of Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Woodlawn Heights and Edenwald, of which Julius Haas is Chairman, and John H. Behrmann is Secretary. This Committee was in charge of arrangements for the local celebration in Williamsbridge and Wakefield.

Official Party. Among those on the train were Commissioners Henry W. Hodge, Travis H. Whitney and Charles S. Hervey; Secretary James B. Walker; Commissioner James 0. Carr of the Second District; Douglas Mathewson, President of the Borough of The Bronx; Robert L Moran, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Aldermen; Daniel L. Turner, Acting Chief Engineer of the Commission; Robert Ridgway, Engineer of Subway Construction; C. V. V. Powers of the Bureau of Contract Adjustment, head of the former Third Division, under whose direction the line was constructed; George H. Pegram, Chief Engineer of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company; George Keegan, Assistant to Vice-President Hedley of that company; Division Engineers John H. Myers, Robert H. Jacobs and Jasper T. Kane of the Commission; A. L. Merritt, Superintendent of the Subway, and many others.

That the residents of the northern section of The Bronx fully recognized the importance of the event was indicated by the fact that houses and business buildings generally along White Plains Road were decorated with flags and bunting in honor of the occasion. Each toot of the whistle of the special train was echoed with cheers and applause from persons in the houses and in the streets. The first stop was made at the station at 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue, where members of the local celebration committee got aboard. The train ran through to 219th Street with only a momentary stop at one or two points, making the run, including the stops, in ten and one-fourth minutes.

First Train Welcomed. A crowd awaited the arrival of the official train at 219th Street. When members of the party descended the stairway from the station to the street there was more applause and cheering. A parade, preceded by a band and headed by Borough, County and other officials, was formed and marched to a hall at 238th Street and White Plains Road, where luncheon was served and general celebratory exercises occurred. Several hundred persons participated in the luncheon and listened to the speeches which followed. Mr. Haas presided.

Among the speakers were Commissioner Hodge, President Mathewson, Alderman Moran, William S. Germain, who was one of the early movers for rapid transit on White Plains Road, William A. Cokely, representing the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, and Mr. Keegan of the Interborough.

A set of engrossed resolutions setting forth the high regard in which he is held by residents along the line, in view of his efforts toward completion of the road, was presented to Commissioner Hodge by Alderman Peter Schweikert. The Commissioner, expressing his thanks, received the resolutions on behalf of the whole Commission

Description of Line. The White Plains Road extension is a three-track elevated structure, branching off from the structure of the West Farms division near 179th Street, crossing streets, private property and the Bronx River to the eastward, and extending northerly along the east side of Bronx Park and on White Plains Road to 241st Street, otherwise known as Baychester Avenue, Wakefield. For about half a mile along the east side of Bronx Park the line is carried upon an embankment.

The line is 14.6 track miles in length, or the equivalent of 4.8 linear miles. There are 11 stations on the line, as follows: East 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue, Bronx Park East, Pelham Parkway, Allerton Avenue, Burke Street, Gun Hill Road, East 219th Street, East 225th Street, East 233d Street, Nereid Avenue (238th Street), and East 241st Street. Three are express stations, namely, those at 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue, Gun Hill Road and the northern terminal station at 241st Street.

Two of the stations, those at Pelham Parkway and at Bronx Park East (Sagamore Street), are ornamental concrete structures, for the reason that Sagamore Street will constitute a new and important entrance to Bronx Park and Pelham Parkway is an important boulevard thoroughfare.

At Gun Hill Road the Webster Avenue extension of the Third Avenue elevated railroad will be connected with the White Plains Road structure so that it will be possible to operate express and local elevated trains as well as express and local subway trains on the White Plains Road line north of that point. The connection between the Webster Avenue tracks and the White Plains Road tracks will be so made as to avoid a grade crossing and preclude the necessity of delays to service such as exist at several points in the First Subway.

At the 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue station connection will be had by bridge with the 180th Street express station of the New York, Westchester and Boston high speed electric railroad which extends to White Plains and New Rochelle, and closely parallels the White Plains Road line at this point.

Yards under Construction. At 180th Street, adjoining the structure, the Commission is constructing a large yard for the storage of subway cars. Another yard, the largest of its kind in the city, is being constructed to the east of the line between 239th Street and Baychester Avenue. This line will contain storage space for several hundred elevated and subway cars.

The White Plains Road extension has cost approximately $2,750,000 to construct, exclusive of the two yards mentioned, and exclusive of the equipment which is being installed by the Interborough, the operating company. The storage yards with their approaches will cost approximately $650,000. The White Plains Road extension was divided for purposes of construction into two sections, the contract for the first of which, from Bronx Street to Burke Street, was delivered by the Commission to Oscar Daniels Company on March 24, 1914, the contract price being $914,425. The contract for section 2, from Burke Street to 241st Street, was delivered to Alfred P. Roth on January 13,1914, the contract price being $958,484. The contract for the installation of tracks was delivered to the Coast and Lakes Contracting Corporation on April 13, 1916, the contract price being $95,280.50. One contract was let for the station finish on both the Jerome Avenue and White Plains Road extensions, the contract being delivered on October 13, 1915, to the Altoria Realty and Construction Company at a cost of $860,636.50.

Public Service Record · Vol IV, No. 4, April 1917

Operation Extended. An additional portion of the White Plains Road extension of the First Subway between 219th Street and 238th Street was placed in operation on Saturday, March 31, [1917] at 3 P. M. As noted in the last issue of the Record [above] operation of the line from its junction with the West Farms branch at 178th Street to 219th Street was begun on March 3. One additional section of the line yet remains to he given over to operation, namely, that between the 238th Street station (Nereid Avenue) and the terminal station at 241st Street.

Owing to certain reconstruction of the line between the two above named stations, made necessary by the building of the 239th Street yard, it will be impossible to open the road to its northern terminus for several months. Very material changes to the structure are required to obviate the necessity of a grade crossing entrance to the yard at 239th Street. Inasmuch as the terminal station at 241st Street is somewhat less than half a mile from the 238th Street station, residents in the vicinity of 241st Street will not be put to great inconvenience during the few months which must elapse before the whole line is ready to be placed in service.

Four Track Miles Added. The extension of operation on March 31 adds nearly four track miles to Dual System lines in operation and places in service three additional stations, namely, those at 225th Street, 233d Street and 238th Street. Residents of the neighborhood, working in conjunction with the local transit committees of Williamsbridge, Wakefield, Woodlawn and Edenwald, arranged exercises which took place in a hall at Wakefield, adjacent to the 238th Street station.

When service was begun on March 3, trains of four cars of the composite type formerly used in the subway were placed in operation on the White Plains Road line. Owing to operating difficulties which arose it was deemed advisable by the operating company, the Interborough, to run certain of its through trains on the West Farms branch to the 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue station on the White Plains Road line, which service was soon after instituted. In view of that fact, the first train over the additional portion of the line started from the 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue station at 3:15 P.M. on March 31, bearing members and other representatives of the Public Service Commission, City officials, representatives of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, local and borough officials and invited guests.

Buildings Decorated. Buildings along the route were decorated and crowds greeted the arrival of the train at 238th Street. In the official party were Commissioners Henry W. Hodge and Travis H. Whitney; Daniel L. Turner, Chief Engineer; James B. Walker, Secretary of the Commission George Keegan, Assistant to the Vice-President, with other officials and engineers of the Interborough; Register Edward Polak, of The Bronx; Julius Haas, Chairman, and John H. Behrmann, Secretary, of the Transit Committee, which arranged the celebration; Alderman Peter Schweikert; W. S. Germain; together with numerous invited guests. The official train made the run from 180th Street-Morris Park Avenue to 238th Street in about eleven minutes.

Commissioners Hodge and Whitney and Mr. Turner were among the speakers at the celebration exercises, others being Register Polak, Mr. Keegan and W. S. Germain. For many years Mr. Germain was a leader in advocacy of the construction of the White Plains Road extension. Mr. Haas presided.

An accompanying illustration shows the first train to 238th Street entering that station.

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