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as meaning unreasonable obstruction. It is believed to be a well-established rule that, in order to determine whether or not a bridge is an unreasonable obstruction, the commerce to be benefited by the bridge and the interests involved therein are to be considered as well as the interests of navigation. “The rights of commerce by vessels, although pre-existing, are not paramount to the rights of commerce by any other way. Some concessions must be made on every side for the convenience and the harmonious pursuit of different occupations.” It is in view of this spirit of mutual concession, which must prevail, that it must be held that the bridge should not be simply the cheapest which can be built, but that the company should be content to incur the extra expense of constructing a bridge which shall not prove to be an unreasonable obstruction. On the other hand, the parties interested in the navigation should not ask that the Bridge Company be put to unreasonable expense, and should accept gracefully the fact that the expenses of navigation may be reasonably increased. In the case of the Mollie Mohler, it is well stated by the United States Supreme Court that

The officers of steamers plying the Western waters must be held to the full measure of responsibility in navigating streams where bridges are built across them. These bridges, supported by piers, of necessity increase the dangers of navigation, and river-men, instead of recognizing them as lawful structures, built in the interest of commerce, seen; to regard them as obstructions to it, and apparently act on the belief that frequent accidents will cause their removal. There is no foundation for this belief. Instead of the present bridges being abandoned, more will be constructed.

The changed condition of the country produced by the building of railroads has caused the great inland waters to be spanned by bridges. These bridges are to a certain extent impediments in the way of navigation; but railways are highways of commerce as well as rivers, and would fail of accomplishing one of the main objects for which they were created, the rapid transit of persons and property, if rivers could not be bridged. It is the interest as well as the duty of all persons engaged in business on the water-routes of transportation to conform to this necessity of commerce. If they do this, and recognize railroad bridges as an accomplished fact in the history of the country, there would be less loss of life and property, and fewer complaints of the difficulties of navigation at the places where these bridges are built.

That in adjusting the rights of private parties to the public interests it is clearly the intention of Congress to permit some degree of obstruction is evident, and this degree can best be inferred from the kind of obstruction that has been sanctioned by Congress as well as by the executive and judicial departments of the Government.

The suspension bridge between New York and Brooklyn requires all large sailing vessels navigating the East River to send down their topmasts, and although it was showu at the time the structure was under discussion that this would be a considerable expense as well as an inconvenience to navigation, the Courts refused to interfere.

The bridges across the Allegheny and Monongabela rivers at Pitts. burgh compel all large steamers to lower their smoke-stacks. This is also required at the Eads bridge at Saint Louis during high stages of the river.

Congress has thus far declined to provide a draw in the new Aqueduct Bridge across the Potomac at Georgetown, although it has been shown that such draw would be a great convenience, if not an absolute necessity, to enable suitable vessels to reach the great stove-quarries above the site of the bridge.

We have been thus particular in reference to the history of the bridge before the Board, to the action of Congress, and to the rulings of the Courts for the reason that we can not conscientiously disregard them in determining what legislation to recommend to the Committee on Commerce.

Will the bridge, if completed on the plans as at present authorized, constitute an unreasouable obstruction ? We have no hesitation in an: swering yes. The lowest member of the superstructure is to be only 34 feet 8 inches above mean low-uater mark. This would leave a height of less than 30 feet above high water, which is the stage at which the tows pass the bridge. This height, in our opinion, is not sufficient, and would constitute an unreasonable obstruction.

Do the piers as located and constructed constitute an unreasonable obstruction? In our opinion, no. In view of the bistory of the bridge it would appear to us to be unreasonable to demand that the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company should tear out the work already completed and be obliged to incur the extra expense of constructing entirely new piers and superstructure simply because the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley Railroad companies may have to incur some extra expense over the cost of the pre-existing methods of vavi. gation. If the navigation companies are to incur no expense, then it would seem to us that the doctrine of mutuality of concession is lost sight of.

It seems to us that the question simply is, will the increase of expense in towing to be an unreasonable one? It is claimed that the navigation companies will be put to great extra expense, and that consequently the public interests will suffer. We can not conscientiously believe the price of coal in any market of the world will be affected 1 cent by this bridge. We are not satisfied that the navigation companies will have to incur any extra expense; but even if they do, we do not believe that such expense will be so great as to be held by any Court to be unreasonable. We do not believe that a greater number of tugs will be required to take any given tow past the bridge than around Corner Stake Light or past Shooters' Island.

The claim that there will be great loss of life and property in passing the bridge we can not consider for a moment; the law requires that competent and skilled captains and pilots shall be employed by transportation companies. We believe that any competent pilot can take any reasonable tow past the bridge in safety. Novelty has ever been a bug. bear to conservatism, and it is a well-known fact that the average steamboatman is a conservatist par excellence. He is wedded to old methods, dislikes new ones, and, consciously or unconsciously, magnifies the dangers to be encountered or the damages to be suffered in case of a change of methods. This bridge is a novelty just at present, but will soon cease to be so. Any one of the tows which the Board saw pass the bridge on March 31 we firmly believe could have been taken past by one properly. handled tug instead of requiring five tugs.

We can not conscientiously believe that any corporation will abandon terminal facilities on which it has expended $2,000,000 purely and simply on account of the construction of this bridge.

We are thus led to the following conclusions :

(1) The bridge, if completed upon the present plans, would constitute an unreasonable obstruction to navigation.

(2) We can not perceive the necessity for the legislation embodied in Senate bill No. 1842.

(3) We would recommend that the act of Congress approved June 16, 1886, be so amended as to require that the spans shall not be less than 50 feet above mean high-water mark, measuring to the lowest member of the bridge superstructure. With this height of spans 81 per cent. of the water traffic will be accommodated without requiring the draws to be opened. The bridge company would also be benefited in

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that, not having to open the draws so often, there would be much less delay in the passage of trains, and hence less expense incurred.

(4) We would also recommend that the fender-piling around the east pier be extended to a point on the shore opposite the south end of the crib-work erected in the center of the water-way, and that the time within which the bridge shall be completed be reasonably extended.


Major of Engineers. Edw. MAGUIRE,

Captain of Engineers. New YORK CITY, April 10, 1888.


NEW YORK CITY, May 5, 1888. GENERAL: The Board of Engineers convened by Special Orders Nos. 8 and 9, current series, Headquarters Corps of Engineers, has carefully considered the questions contained in the indorsement of the Secretary of War of April 28, 1888, and has the honor to report, in answer to the several questions, as follows:

Q. 1. Cost of changes in the bridge recommended by the report of the majority of the Board.

The Board is of opinion that the cost of these changes will be about $143,000. Q. 2. Cost of changes in the bridge recommended by the minority.

The Board is of opinion that the cost of these changes will be about $38,000.

Q. 3. Cost of increasing the length of the draw on each side of the pivot to 300 feet (no increase in height of bridge).

The Board is of opinion that the pivot truss of 500 feet, as now being built, can not be lengthened practically by 100 feet so as to give water. way spans of 300 feet. All the members of the original truss would have to be enlarged, which can not be done in a satisfactory manner, and it would be cheaper in the end to build a new truss of the dimensions required, namely, 600 feet. The Board is of the opinion that the present bridge could be altered so as to contain a 300-foot pivot draw for the sum of $125,000.

Q. 4. What will be the cost of the necessary widening and deepening of the Kill at or near the bridge on the Staten Island side if provided for in the river and harbor propriation

Taking the cost of the land at $500 per acre and the price of dredging at 25 cents per yard the cost will be about $9,500. All of which is repectfully submitted.


Colonel, Corps of Engineers. W. R. KING,

Major of Engineers. EDW. MAGUIRE,

Captain of Engineers. The CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, U. S. A.

W W 3.


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, and to which was referred by your indorsement of March 2, 1888, Senate bill 1850 for consideration and report, has the honor to state:

That Senate bill 1850 authorizes the construction of a bridge across the waters of the Arthur Kill from some point or points between the town of Westfield, Staten Island, Richmond County, New York, to some point or points in Middlesex County, in the State of New Jer. sey, as a foot-bridge, wagon-road, and railway bridge. The bridge is to be a pivot draw-bridge, with spans not less than 200 feet in the clear, the other spans to be not less than 250 feet, if the proper location of the draw will admit of spans of this width, and the height of the superstructure is to be not less than 15 feet above low water, or 10 feet above extreme high water, measuring to the bottom chord of the bridge; or the bridge may be a lifting bridge.

By the bill, the bridge may be placed at any point of a portion of the Kill 54 miles in length. This reach is in the lower half of the stream and where the waters of the Kill have their greatest width. Taking into consideration the amount and character of the commerce and navi. gation over the stream, the Board is of opinion that the bridge proposed in the bill would be a serious obstruction to navigation, and should not be constructed. The Board would recommend in its stead a bridge having a clear height of superstructure above mean high water of 50 feet, a clear span 500 feet in width over a channel-way of 13 feet depth at low water, and a draw-span next to this span of at least 200 feet in width. The other spans of the bridge should not be less than 250 feet in the clear.

Section 6 of the same bill authorizes the construction of a suspension, cantilever, or lifting bridge over the Kill Von Kull, to and from some point or points commencing on the northerly side of Third street and York avenue, in the village of New Brighton, Staten Island, Richmond County, in the State of New York, to some point or points at or near Constable's Point, in the State of New Jersey, of such a height or in such a manner as not to interfere with the free navigation thereof by vessels and boats customarily navigating the same.

In view of the extensive commerce passing the position proposed for this bridge, being not only that coming through the Arthur Kill, but in addition that from Elizabethport, Newark Bay, and the north shore of the Kill Von Kull, the latter being extensively carried on by ocean. going ships, the Board is of opinion that this bridge when built should be a cantilever bridge of three bays, spanning the entire water-way, the center bay to be not less than 900 feet in width in the clear, and

furnishing a clear height over the channel-way at mean high water of at least 150 feet.


Colonel, Corps of Engineers. HENRY M. ROBERT,

Lieut. Col. of Engineers. PETER: C. HAINS,

Lieut. Col. of Engineers. W. R. KING,

Major of Engineers. EDW. MAGUIRE,

Captain of Engineers. Brig. Gen. J. C. DUANE,

Chief of Engineers, U. 8. A.


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August 28, 1886. DEAR SIR: I inclose herewith a letter just received from our Senator, George F. Edmunds, in regard to a bridge we are now building from the town of North Hero, Vt., to the town of Alburgh, Vt., across Lake Champlain, calling our attention to the fact that we have never ob. tained the approval of the War Department.

We supposed we had complied with every requirement of the law in regard to the matter until we received this letter.

We obtained a charter from the General Government, also from our State in 1884, which we supposed was all that was required of us.

If you will please inform us what steps we shall take now in regard to the matter, that we may be guided thereby, we would be greatly obliged. I am, sir, very respectfully, yours,


[First indorsement, ]


September 4, 1886. Respectfully returned to the Secretary of War.

“An act to authorize the construction of a highway bridge across that part of the waters of Lake Champlain lying between the towns of North Hero and Alburgh, in the State of Vermont," was approved June 20, 1884 (U. S. Statute, vol. 23, pages 49, 50).

The second section of the act providesThat the structure authorized by the preceding section shall be built and located under and subject to such regulations for the security of navigation of such waters as the Secretary of War shall prescribe, and shall be provided with such suitable and convenient draw as the said Secretary shall deem needful for the proper purposes of navigaziou, etc.

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