Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge

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The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge is a railroad-only, vertical lift bridge connecting Elizabethport, New Jersey and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island. The bridge was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1959 to replace an older swing span. It is a single track bridge, used mainly to carry garbage out of New York, diverting traffic off of the parallel Goethals Bridge, which is a section of Interstate 278. It has the distinction of being the largest vertical lift bridge in the world, with two towers of 215 feet each, and a truss span of 135 feet in height and 558 feet in length.

Decline of rail traffic
As soon as the new bridge opened, rail traffic over the route began to decline due to major manufacturing facilities on Staten Island closing. Bethlehem Steel closed in 1960, U.S. Gypsum in 1972, U.S. Lines- Howland Hook Marine Terminal in 1986, and Procter and Gamble in 1991. A shift to truck traffic also caused a substantial decline of rail traffic over the bridge, and the North Shore branch of rail service went through a series of owners. The three companies that owned the North Branch were B&O Railroad, CSX and the Delaware Otsego Corporation. They saw the bridge as an excess property. The last freight train went over the Arthur Kill Lift Bridge in 1991, at which time the North Shore branch of rail service was terminated until service resumed in 2007.

Re-opening the bridge
In 1994, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) purchased the Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge and the North Shore branch of rail service from CSX. On December 15, 2004, NYCEDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a joint $72 million project to rehabilitate the bridge and reactivate freight rail service on Staten Island. Repairs include repainting the steel and rehabilitating the lift mechanism. The bridge was painted royal blue in an homage to the B&O. The rehabilitation project was completed in June 2006. On October 4, 2006, a train crossed the bridge for the first time in 16 years. It consisted of just a single locomotive which will take on switching duties at the New York Container Terminal, also known by its old name, Howland Hook. On April 2, 2007, normal operations involving garbage removal from the Staten Island Transfer Station started, which will result in an estimated 90,000 annual truck loads diverted from the nearby Goethals Bridge. On October 4, 2007, New York Container Terminal, which operates Howland Hook, announced the opening of on-dock rail service via the bridge, with regular service by CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads.

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