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The reports of the Board, dated April 10, are herewith submitted, from which it will appear that the members were divided in opinion in regard to the subject, except as to the height of the bridge under consideration, wbich was agreed by all the members should be 50 feet above mean high water, measured to the lowest part of the superstructure.
It will appear that the majority of the Board recommends, in addition to raising the bridge to 50 feet above mean high water, a change in the plan of the draw-span, etc., as shown in the drawing accompanying its report.
The minority considers a sufficient concession is made to the navigation interests by recommending the increased height of the bridge. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. DUANE,
Brig. Gen., Chief of Engineers. Hon. WILLIAM C. ENDICOTT,
Secretary of War.
LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS TO BOARD OF ENGINEERS.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,
UNITED STATES ARMY,
Washington, D. C., February 20, 1888. SIR: The inclosed communication of the 11th instant from the Committee on Commerce of the United States Senate and accompanying resolution of that committee, and S. 1812, Fistieth Congress, first ses. sion, a bill “ to amend an act to authorize the construction of a bridge across Staten Island Sound, known as Arthur Kill, and to establish the same as a post-road," are transmitted for the information and action of the Board of Engineers constituted by Special Orders No. 8, Headquarters Corps of Engineers, current series, of which you are the presiding officer, attention being specially invited to the indorsement of the Secretary of War thereon, 'dated the 18th instant. The letter of the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of War upon the subject, dated the 17th instant, is also inclosed.
It is desired that the Board give the subject the careful consideration its importance demands, and that due notice be given to the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company, to the Baltimore and New York Railroad Company, to the Pennsylvania Company, and, as far as practicable, to all parties interested, as to the time and place appointed for the meeting of the Board, in order that they may be afforded an opportunity for expressing their views in reference to the bill in question.
The Board is authorized to visit the locality of the bridge and to cause such examinations to be made thereof as may be deemed necessary to a proper understanding of the subject.
By command of Brigadier-General Duane.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. 0. POST, Major of Engineers.
Col. THOS. LINCOLN CASEY,
Corps of Engineers, V. S. A.
REPORT OF BOARD OF ENGINEERS ON s. 1812, A BILL “TO AMEND AN
ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE CONSTRUCTION OF A BRIDGE ACROSS STATEN ISLAND SOUND, KNOWN AS ARTHUR KILL, AND TO ESTABLISH THE SAME AS A POST-ROAD."
New York City, April 10, 1888. GENERAL: The Board of Engineers convened by Special Orders Nos. 8 and 9, current series, from the Headquarters Corps of Engineers, was instructed to consider and report upon Senate bill 1842 in conformity with the resolution of the Committee on Commerce of the Senate, which resolution was passed at a meeting of the said committee February 9, 1888, as follows:
Resolved, That the Secretary of War be requested to detail a Board of Engineers for the examination of the Staten Island Bridge, now in process of construction, especially in reference to its alleged obstruction to navigation; to give to the parties in interest a hearing touching the same; and then advise this committee as to the necessity of the accompanying bill (S. 1842) or other legislation.
A hearing was given the parties in interest March 21 at the Board rooms in New York City, and the papers filed (exbibits marked 1 to 25, respectively) are appended to the report. A transcript of the steno graphic potes taken at the hearing (marked A) aud other papers filed subsequent to the conclusions of the Board as arrived at in this report (marked 26 to 29, respectively) are also appended.
The first part of the duties required of the Board was “the examination of the Staten Island Bridge, now in process of construction, especially in reference to its alleged obstruction to navigation."
The bridge in question, now being constructed across the Arthur Kill by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company, is located about 2,800 feet below the mouth of Elizabeth River and just above the mouth of Old Place Creek. The width of the stream at this point, measured parallel to the axis of the bridge at mean low water, is 700 feet. The superstructure of the bridge is to be supported by five stone masonry piers, namely, a pivot-pier, placed in the middle of the water-way, and with its oak fenders occupying 50 feet in width; two rest piers to support the ends of the draw, their axes 250 feet from the center of the pivot-pier, and provided with fenders on the channel side; and two abutment piers, their axes 150 feet from the axes of the rest piers. These last piers are located on the banks of the stream. The clear water.way on each side of the pivot-pier at mean low water is 207 feet. The height of the bridge at its lowest point above mean low water is 34.7 feet.
When the Board inspected the bridge, March 31, the pivot pier was completed; and the crib-work support, for the draw when open, built to about 5 feet above high water. Both the abutment piers had been finished, but neither of the rest piers had been commenced. The caissons were in position, but had not been settled. The bridge is located and is being constructed substantially in accordance with the act of June 16, 1886, but, as will be noted, both the draw-spans and height of superstructure above mean low water are slightly greater thau the law requires. The plan of the bridge piers, as they are being constructed, is shown on sheet No. 1, accompanying this report, while upon the same plan are shown the depth of water and set and velocity of the tide through the eastern draw-span upon the first, second, and third quarters of the flood.
From this it will be seen that the direction of the flood current is as nearly parallel to the draw.pier as could be expected in a channel of this width. The observations were made upon the currents at a depth of 6 feet below the surface.
The Arthur Kill, extending from the mouth of the Raritan River to Elizabethport, N. J., is a tidal stream some 12 miles in length, with a navigable depth at mean low water of 13 feet and at high water of 18 feet. In the lower two-thirds of its length it attains at some points a width of 3,500 feet, while ou the upper third it narrows to a water-way of from 600 to 800 feet. The commerce of this stream is extensive, reaching an average of 6,000,000 of tons of freight transported annually.
The navigation used upon this stream is mainly that of tows, the boats forming the tows being canal-boats, chunkers, barges with derrick masts, etc., and are generally of a style unsuited to rongh water. Sail. ing vessels, schooners, barks, and oyster vessels, with steamers, tugs, and side-wheel passenger and freight-boats, also make use of this stream in the interest of commerce. It is probable, however, that nine-tenths of the freight carried is transported on the tows. They are made up at South and Perth Amboy from boats that have been loaded at those ports, and from boats that have come down the Raritan River and through the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and in some rare cases hare attained the size of seventy-six boats in a tow. Usually the tows consisted of about forty boats. They were arranged in a mass of fire boats abreast to eight boats in length, carrying from 6,000 to 7,000 tons of freight. Leaving the mouth of the Arthur Kill upon the first of the flood, with a tug connected by a hawser to the front of the tow, and with frequently a second tug to control the rear of the tow, in passing sharp bends in the channel, the tows would arrive at the site of the bridge in question at from one and one-half to two hours before high water, the object being to pass through the Kill von Kull and reach the waters of New York Bay in time to secure the last of the flood passing up the bay. These tows were unwieldy, and with the motive power supplied could little more than be directed into the thread of the current, and it was in passing sharp bends and narrow channels that they gave the most trouble. In the narrower parts of the Kill they frequently would come in collision with the banks and structures upon them, demolishing whatever was struck by them, and sometimes entailing large claims tor damages upon the owners of the tows. Indeed they were considered a nuisance by other classes of boats navigating the stream, but they were evidently, with all their faults, the cheapest mode of carrying the freight through the Kill.
It is now maintained that to pass the bridge in question in safety the tows from the Amboys will have to be reduced in size to four boats abreast by five iu depth, making twenty boats in a tow, which tow must be attended by at least as much motive power as attended the larger tow before the bridge was built. It is understood by the Board that there is no opposition to this statement. This condition of things must at least double the cost of towing, and when there are further considered the small height of the bridge above the water, necessi. tating the draw to be opened for tow's, the delays that must at times happen in the opening of the draw, the loss of tide from delays, the collisions with the masonry piers and guard piles of this bridge under the varying conditions of wind, tide, fog, and darkness to which the tows will be exposed, some additional cost must be entailed upon the navigation through the spans of this bridge.
The saling and large steam-boat interests are well pleased with the form and dimensions of the present bridge. A draw must be opened for them, and as they have only a single vessel to look out for, they can
with ease pass through the draw-spans of 200 feet, especially if the strength of the current is setting fair througb the span they use.
The Board is of the opinion, after careful consideration of the questions involved, and an “examination of the Staten Island Bridge now in process of construction, especially in reference to its alleged obstruction to navigation,” that the said bridge is a serious obstruction to navigation through the Arthur Kill.
The next duty required of the Board is to advise the Committee on Commerce as to the necessity of Senate bill 1842, or other legislation.
Senate bill 1812 is in the following terms: A BILL to amend an act to anthorize the construction of a bridge across Staten Island Sound, known
as Arthur Kill, and to establish the same as a post-road. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, Tbat section two of said act be amended so as to read as follows:
That said bridge shall be constructed so that the channel-face of the east pier thereof shall be on the Staten Island bulkhead or shore-line, and whose channel-span shall give a clear opening of four hundred and fifty feet, and whose span next west shall be a draw-span giving one-hundred and twenty-five feet clear opening; the lowest parts of these spans being fifty feet above mean high water. The foundations of the piers shall be so arranged as to admit future deepening of the Kill to twenty feet: And provided also, That said draw shall be opened promptly, upon reasonable signal, except when trains are passing over the said bridge, for the passage of tho boats whose construction shall not be such as to admit of their passage under the draw of said bridge when closed; but in no case shall unnecessary delay occur in opening the said draw after the passage of trains; and the said company or corporation shall maintain, at its own expense, from sunset to sunrise, such lights or other signals on said bridge as the Light-House Board shall prescribe.
Had the bridge in question been built originally in accordance with the project contained in this bill, its most serious interference with the navigation of the Arthur Kill would have been removed, but in view of the progress made upon the construction of the bridge, undertakeu and carried on under the terms of the act of June 16, 1886, the Board is of the opinion that a bridge giving great relief to the navigation can yet be constructed and but little of the work already done be lost to the company. Upon Sheet No. 2, accompanying this report, is shown in plan (figure 1) the position of the piers of the bridge now building. Figure 2 represents the position of the piers of a bridge now proposed by the Board, as follows: Let the abutment pier on Staten Island and the center pivot as built remain in their present position. The distance be. tween their centers is 400 feet; they should be connected by continuous trusses, giving a clear water-way of 350 feet after the shore of Staten Island shall have been dredged away to the face of the abutment pier and upon a line parallel with the bulkhead line. Occupy with a new pivot pier the position of the western rest pier, and mount upou this pivot pier the draw, which it is understood is about completed. Place the lowest part of the superstructure at the level of 50 feet above mean high water. By this arrangement the tows will be enabled with much less cost and risk to pass under the bridge and without requiring a draw to be opened, and the masted vessels and large steamers will have at their disposal a draw-span of the present bridge giving a clear water-way of 200 feet.
The Board would recommend that the bill (S. 1842) be amended so as to read as follows:
That said bridge shall be constructed as a pivot draw-bridge, and the piers of said bridge shall be located as follows: Beginning at the eastern end of the bridge on the Staten Island shore the first pier, number one, shall have its axis distant four hundred feet from the center of the water-way, measured along the axis of the bridge. The next pier west, number two, shall have its axis located at the center of the water way. The next pier west, number three, sball be a pivot-pier for the draw and shall have its center located two bundred and fifty feet west of the center of number two. The next pier west may be a rest pier for the draw, and may be located two hundred and fifty feet west of the center of number three. The piers shall be built to such a height that the lowest part of the work forming the superstructure of the bridge shall not be less than fifty feet above mean high water, and the foundations of the piers shall be so arranged as to admit future deepening of the Kill to twenty feet. So much of the western shore of Sta:en Island as lies outside of a line parallel to the bulkhead line and toucbing the western face of the most eastern pier shall be dredged off for a distance above the axis of the bridge of four hundred and thirty feet and below the bridge of one hundred and twenty-five feet, so as to secure a clear channel-way beneath the eastern span of thirteen feet in depth at mean low water and three hundred and fifty feet in width: And provided also, That said araw shall be opened promptly upon reasonable signal, except when trains are passing over the said bridge, for the passage of the boats whose construction shall not be such as to admit of the passage under the draw of said bridge when closed. But in no case shell unnecessary delay occur in opening the said draw after tbe passage of trains; and the said company or corporation shall maintain at its own expense, from sunset to suprise, such lights or other signals on said bridge as the Light-House Board sball prescribe.
THOS. LINCOLN CASEY,
Colonel, Corp of Engineers. HENRY M. ROBERT,
Lieut. Col. of Engineers. PETER C. HAINS,
Lieut. Col. of Engineers. Brig. Gen. J. C. DUANE,
Chief of Engineers, U. S. A.
The undersigned can not agree entirely with the opinion of the majority of the Board, as set forth in the foregoing report, and therefore submit the following:
Inasmuch as this Board owes its existence to the desire on the part of the Senate Committee on Commerce for advice as to the necessity for certain legislation, as set forth in Senate bill 1842, or possibly other legislation; inasmuch as all the papers bearing upon the history of this bridge are referred to the Board, and the instructions to the Board are that it should give a hearing to all the parties interested, it is conclusive to our minds that we can not ignore the fact that the bridge now in process of construction was authorized by the act of Congress approved June 16, 1886, and the plans of construction were approved by the War Department after a long and full hearing from both sides, and after the rejection by the Senate of a bill identically the same as the one now under consideration; hence we are of the opinion that we must give due consideration to the fact that the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company proceeded in good faith with the construction of this bridge upon what it could very naturally regard as a final decree or judgment. It has erected piers as authorized, and expended a large amount of money in so doing, and also for shop-work, on the superstructure now nearly completed. In our opinion all this must be considered in arriving at a decision whether or not the bridge, if constructed as authorized, would be an unreasonable obstruction to navigation.
It is conceded by Congress, by Engineers, and by the Courts that any structure erected in a navigable water way is an obstruction, but the Courts hare uniformly held that the term obstruction is to be constrned