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THE LINE RELOCATION

THE COMET AT THE EAST END OF THE RELOCATION
The foreground track is the original alignment through Pawtucket and Central Fall.
The "Comet" was introduced in 1935 and was scheduled to cover the 44 miles between Providence and Boston in 44 minutes with stops at Pawtucket-Central Falls and Back Bay.  Here it is in local service c.1950 near the end of its life.  It was one of the first streamlined trains.
 
1913 MAP 
Central Falls and Pawtucket When The Line Relocation Began In 1913.
Trolley lines are shown by dots and dashes.  Notice the trolley detour at the Pawtucket depot.
 
DECISION
      The Rhode Island Railroad Commissioner persistently complained that the number of accidents in Pawtucket and Central Falls  "has been something appalling".  The public and the railroad agreed that something had to be done but disagreed on what.  Some bridges were built across the tracks during the 1870's but additional bridges were not desirable at the main crossings, nor was a raised roadbed on an unsightly chinese wall which would have conflicted with the existing overpasses.  A line relocation was promising but there was disagreement over who should pay for the expensive project and neither Pawtucket or Central Falls wanted to surrender their own stations even though they were only half a mile apart.
      After about two decades of debate and deadlock, in April 1912,  the Rhode Island governor appointed a Pawtucket and Central Falls Grade Crossing Commission  empowered by law to decide which of the various routes and schemes would eliminate the grade crossings at Pine, Dexter and Broad Streets in Pawtuket and Central and Foundry Streets in Central Falls.  The legislation also determined that the cities would pay 35 percent of the cost of the project and the railroad 65 percent.  The commission was composed of one representative from each city and one from the railroad. In September 1912, the commission approved a plan to relocate the railroad and provide both cities with a railroad station though they would have to share the building. 
 
 
 Dotted Lines Show The Old Line
 The distance covered by the project was 7,200 feet.  The four-tracked portion of the reconstruction was 5,700 feet or a little more than a mile.
 
THE PLAN
     At Jenks Street in Central Falls the new route left the old by turning west on curves with radii of 1,745 feet and 3,490 feet ending with a tangent of 2,794 feet between Olive Street and a point on the Woodlawn curve 430 feet south of Conant Street.  The new Dexter Street bridge was about 750 feet north of the old crossing while the distance between the old and new stations was about 1,300 feet measured along Broad Street.  The grade was mainly level but dipped at a rate of 0.4 percent starting at Connant and Olive Streets reaching a low point at Dexter Street to ease the ramps up to the bridge.  Since the old route was on a slight upgrade south of Boston Switch, leveling the grade from there resulted in depressing the tracks by 7.3 feet at Central Street.  The high ground at the new station required a major excavation to maintain a level route which would be 25 to 27 below grade through the station cuves from Jenks to Olive Streets.  
 
 
THE NEW LINE SEEN FROM CONANT STREET
 The old route is on the right.  The freight house built in 1882 will be moved a few hundred feet to the right because the relocation left its street side too close to the mainline tracks.  Moving a large brick building was not an exceptional event at the time.
EXCAVATION
       Construction began in April 1913.  Practically all steam shovel and track work was handled by railroad employees.  Over 100 parcels of land were purchased and 110 buildings razed.  The New Haven railroad used two 70-ton Bucyrus steam shovels and Rodger ballast cars to remove  437,000 cubic feet of sand, gravel and boulders from the new route.  Some of the dirt was used to fill the old roadbed north of Broad Street, about 125,000 cubic feet was hauled eight miles to Olneyville to elevate the Pascoag branch tracks there, and the remainder was hauled two miles west to provide fill for the future Northup Avenue yard expansion.  Eight highway bridges had to be constructed and 30,000 cubic yards of concrete laid.  The work was complicated by the need to lower or reroute sewers and water mains and to keep four streets open during the excavation.  Moreover, the rail line had to be kept open by a number of maneuvers which involved building temporary track in Central Falls while the grade and width of the route were changed. The new tracks, but not the station, were placed in operation in December 1914.  Only a few days before Christmas, track gangs and steam shovels began work at 1 a.m. and by 6 a.m. had cut the old tracks and connected the new. Until the new station was opened about a year later, a temporary station 110 by 40 feet served at an adjoining location.
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTOGRAPHS
 
 
EXCAVATION   -      MARCH 12, 1914 
The junction of the old and new lines is approximately in the center of the picture but not visible.  Broad Street has been cut and will soon be rejoined by a bridge.         NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
BARTON AND BROAD STREETS WILL CROSS ON BRIDGES SLIGHTLY TO THE SOUTH OF THE STATION
NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
 
THE NEW AND OLD LINES WILL JOIN AROUND CLAY STREET
NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
 
THE FOUNDATION FOR THE NEW STATION
The old line can be seen in the distance.       NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
The new line joined the old on the far side of Clay Street.
NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
 
 DEXTER STREET BRIDGE LOOKING TOWARD WOODLAWN TOWER - OCTOBER 22, 1914.
NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
 
THE  BROAD STREET BRIDGE BEFORE CONSTRUCTION OF THE STATION BETWEEN BARTON AND CLAY STREETS
NHRHTA COLLECTION

The station under construction c.1915 seen from Barton Street.  NOTE the temporary station and walkway to the platforms
The temporary station is the building on the left with the sign PAWTUCKET and CENTRAL FALLS..
Copied from the internet.



THE NOW CLOSED PAWTUCKET STATION
Notice that the tracks have been removed but, otherwise, little has changed c.1915.


 
 
 THE COMPLETED NEW LINE IN 1914 SHOWING BROAD STREET, BARTON STREET AND THE STATION STAIRS
NHRHTA COLLECTION
 
 
 
 
 VIEW FROM FRONT OF TRAIN FROM PROVIDENCE ENTERING THE STATION c.1930s
Photo by John W. Barriger, III.
 
A New Haven local to Boston is descending the 0.4 percent grade to Dexter Street c.1956..
PHOTO BY EDWARD J. OZOG 
 RESULTS
      The relocation cost $2,500,000.  The New Haven gained a four-track line around the former bottleneck, eliminated 68 degrees of curvature, reduced the route by 600 feet and combined two station stops.  The two cities were spared five grade crossings and gained eight new or rebuilt bridges.  Six were plate girder spans with cantilever supports for the sidewalks.  Those at Broad and Barton Streets were built with girders encased in concrete in harmony with the retaining walls of the station.  All the bridges had reinforced concrete floors and a minimum clearance of 18 feet above the rails.  The American Bridge Company, New York, erected the Conant and Dexter Street bridges.  All other bridges were built by the Boston Bridge Works  A five foot steel picket fence enclosed the entire new route 
 
The west end of the relocation viewed from the old line across from Woodlawn Tower c. 1956.  The Conant Street bridge is seen and in the far distance is the Dexter Street bridge, the low point on the new line.
Photo by Edward J. Ozog 
 SIDINGS.  Between the 1882 freight house and the old Pawtucket depot there were a number of sidings which served enterprises such as J.S.White Co.,J.N.Polsey & Co., Armour & Co., Swift & Co., The Narragansett Milling Co. and the Pawtucket Grocery Co.  The grade crossing commission recommended that the tracks remain to serve the businesses but a four-year legal battle ensued and in the end the sidings were removed and replaced by Goff Avenue.  However, a siding between Goff Avenue and the new line served a meat dealer located on Dexter Street into the 1950's. There was also an industrial siding along the lead to the Barton Street team yard, one near Central Street in Central Falls and along the Providence & Worcester just north of Boston Switch.  
 
The New York to Boston express was photographed from Broad Street with Dexter Street at the end of the train.  The tracks diverge to make space for the platforms of the Pawtucket-Central Falls Station which is about 500 feet ahead.  The deep cut permitted constructing the station above the four-track mainline.  Several streets had to be partially or fully closed because of the cut.  The locomotive is one of the I-4 Pacifics delivered the year the station was opened in 1916.
 
 BLUEPRINT PREPARED BY THE GRADE CROSSING COMMISSION
The blueprint shows the point just north of Clay Street at which the new line diverged from the original route of the Providence & Worcester.  It also shows that the floor area of the station is about equally divided between the two cities.
 
 
 
 
 The old route curved to the left in this c.1955 view looking south toward the Pawtucket-Central Falls station above the tracks  The "Senator" to Washington is passing under Cross Street, one of the streets that had originally been an overpass.  The new four-track roadbed is about seven feet lower than the old double-track roadbed.  The extension of Railroad Street on the right passed over the site of the Central Falls depot.  The concrete retaining walls followed the curvature of the curves through the station   
 Photo by Edward J. Ozog


BOSTON SWITCH
The east end of the relocation under construction c.1914 as seen from Ashley Street.  Compare with the next photo from the same location.
In particular, notice that the curved tracks in the foreground will become a straight run until they reach the new station.
Copied from the internet.


 
The east end of the relocation is seen at completion from the new Ashley Street bridge (now Sacred Heart Avenue).  The outside tracks and the Tower (SS 156) are new.  The Foundry Street crossing in front of U.S. Cotton Co. is gone and the tracks through Boston Switch have been lowered by several feet.  Because of the topography, it was advantageous to replace the crossing at Foundry Street and Central Street by extending Ashley Street over the tracks and building new connecting roads.  The Worcester route is the tangent while the Boston route curves to the right. Tracks were laid with 100-lb. rail on untreated oak and chestnut ties over rock ballst.  On the new line, Number 20 track switches were used on high speed routes, Number 15 crossovers were installed for freight movements and Number 10 track switches were used for very slow movements.
  
Subpages (1): THE NEW STATION
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