Service Begun on the Jerome Avenue Line (1917)

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Public Service Record · Vol. IV, No. 6, June 1917.

Service Begun on the Jerome Avenue Line.

The principal portion of the Jerome Avenue branch of the Lexington Avenue Subway was placed in operation on June 2 [1917] with appropriate ceremonies, and in keeping with the Commission's plan that, as fast as possible, such portions of the Dual System as may afford immediate relief to existing traffic conditions shall be put in service. Since the day trains were started passengers have been carried in increasing numbers.

The portion of the line placed in operation is that from the station on the Lexington Avenue Subway at 149th Street, where connection is made by stairways with the Mott Avenue station of the West Farms branch of the First Subway, to Kingsbridge Road. It is not expected that service will be extended over the remainder of the Jerome Avenue line, from the station last named to the northerly terminus at Woodlawn, for some time, possibly not until the whole "H" system is ready.

As most of the employees of the Commission are aware, the Lexington Avenue Subway, after crossing beneath the Harlem River, forks in the vicinity of 135th Street, one branch extending as subway and elevated railroad easterly and northeasterly to Pelham Bay Park, while another branch extends to the north under Mott Avenue and other thoroughfares as a subway, becoming a three-track elevated railroad near 157th Street and River Avenue and extending over the latter and Jerome Avenue to a terminus at Woodlawn Road, adjacent to the new eastern entrance to Van Cortlandt Park, and to Woodlawn Cemetery.

Celebration Arrangements. The program of local exercises in connection with the opening ceremonies was in charge of the Bronx Transit League under the chairmanship of Coroner William J. Flynn of that county. Members of the local committees and other guests of the occasion met in 149th Street and, escorted by a band, marched into the station. There they boarded a special train, and exactly at 2:30 P.M., the hour set in the Commission's resolution authorizing the beginning of service, the doors were closed and amid much tooting of train whistles and a fanfare from the band the train pulled out.

In the official party were Commissioners Henry W. Hodge and Travis H. Whitney; Chief Engineer Daniel L. Turner; Secretary James B. Walker; J. P. DeWindt, Jr., Chief of the Transit Bureau; Division Engineers John H. Myers and R. H. Jacobs: Assistant Secretaries Arthur McKinney and Frank N. Robinson, and several others representing the Commission. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company, operator of the Jerome Avenue line, was represented by George Keegan, Assistant to Vice-President Hedley; George H. Pegram, Chief Engineer; A. L. Merritt. Superintendent of Transportation for the subway division, and others of the operating and engineering departments. The party also included John E. Eustis, former Public Service Commissioner; Borough President Douglas Mathewson; former Borough President Cyrus C. Miller; Park Commissioner Thomas W. Whittle of The Bronx; Coroner Flynn, and many others.

Quick Time. Exactly twelve minutes was consumed in the run from 149th Street to Kingsbridge Road, approximately the same period required by the regular passenger trains which followed close behind the official special. As the latter train emerged from the subway onto the elevated structure at 157th Street, one of the first objects which met the eye was the contractor's plant at Jerome Avenue and 162d Street, utilized in the construction of the tunnel portion of the 162d Street Connection. This connection when joined with the Jerome Avenue line, will give passengers, besides all the other transit benefits afforded, the important additional facility of a connection with the west side elevated lines in Manhattan, and, furthermore, with the new Bronx terminal of the Putnam Division of the New York Central at Sedgwick Avenue and 162d Street. The first train's passengers also had opportunity to observe the large number of new building operations in progress along the route indicating that the Jerome Avenue line, in keeping with the history of other new transit routes, will become the thoroughfare of an almost entirely new traffic.

At present only the southbound platform at Kingsbridge Road is in use. The special train stopped there for a moment and then began its return trip, halting at Fordham Road Station to discharge its passengers that they might participate in the local ceremonies. These were held on the lawn of the adjacent former home of the Fordham Club. Coroner Flynn presided. Brief speeches were made by Commissioners Hodge and Whitney, ex-Commissioner Eustis, Borough President Mathewson, former Borough President Miller, Superintendent Merritt of the Interborough and others.

History of Route. "Rapid transit for the western Bronx," has been, for more than two decades, a rallying cry of the residents of the section in which Jerome Avenue is a central traffic artery. Transit claims of this section of the city were strenuously advanced for a branch of the First Subway when original plans were under early consideration. It was not found feasible to make such connection, however, largely on account of financial reasons. On June 1, 1905, the Board of Rapid Transit Commissioners adopted three rapid transit routes, Nos. 15. 16 and 17, all tending toward a solution to the transit problem of the western side of the city's northern borough. One route. No. 16, called for a three-track elevated railroad on Jerome Avenue, extending from the intersection of Clarke Place north to Woodlawn Road; No. 17, for a subway in Gerard Avenue, to form the southern connection of the Jerome Avenue line; while the third route, No. 15, contemplated a four-track subway in Jerome Avenue, with a connection to the West Side elevated line through 162d Street, a portion of which latter route has been utilized for the West Side elevated railroad extension.

Route No. 16 was approved by the Board of Estimate on July 14, 1905, and by Mayor McClellan two weeks later. Consents sufficient to validate the route were received on May 17, 1906.

River Avenue Route. On June 16, 1908, the proposal to construct a subway in Gerard Avenue having been abandoned because of soil conditions which tended to make the cost prohibitive, the Commission adopted Route No. 23, known as the River Avenue route, which provided for an elevated railroad and subway connecting the Jerome Avenue elevated line with the Lexington Avenue line. This route now forms a part of the Jerome Avenue branch. The approval of the Board of Estimate was given on June 26, 1908, and that of the Mayor four days later. The route was legalized by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department, on June 25, 1909.

Following the signing of the Dual System Contracts in 1913, a public hearing was held on the form of contract for construction of the whole line. Later it was decided to contract in two sections, and a hearing on the form of contract for Section 2 was held on October 24, 1913.

The Commission adopted the plans and contract for the construction of Section 1, from 157th Street to 182d Street, on October 31, 1913. Bids were received on November 28 of the same year and the contract awarded to the Oscar Daniels Company on December 2, at the contract price of $1,077,978. The Board of Estimate gave its approval on December 24; the contract was executed by the Commission on December 31, and work was begun on February 10, 1914.

The plans and contract for Section 2, from 182d Street to Woodlawn Road, were adopted by the Commission on January 16, 1914. Bids were received on February 10, and the contract awarded on March 3 of the same year to the Cooper and Evans Company at the contract price of $1,076,831. The Board of Estimate gave its approval on March 27. The contract was executed on April 3, and work begun April 20.

Engineering Supervision. Construction work on these contracts was carried out under the supervision of the Commission's engineering staff, with Mr. C. V. V. Powers, Division Engineer, and his assistants, including Mr. C. D. Searle, Senior Assistant Division Engineer, and Mr. A. F. Clark, Assistant Division Engineer, in direct charge. Mr. F. D. Barshell was the Assistant Engineer in charge of Section 1, while Section 2, at different times, was in charge of Mr. John E. Ruddy, Junior Engineer, and Mr. Horatio Seymour, Assistant Engineer.

Concurrently with the consolidation of the Second and Third Divisions the work of track construction and station finish was taken over by Division Engineer Robert H. Jacobs of the Track Division and Division Engineer Jasper T. Kane of the Station Finish Division, respectively.

Track installation on the Jerome Avenue line was provided for in a contract executed by the Commission with the Empire Construction Company on March 30, 1916, at the figure of $276,433.55, which also included similar work on the main portion of the Lexington Avenue line and the 149th Street Connection. Station finish for the Jerome Avenue and the White Plains Road lines was included in the contract executed by the Commission with the Altoria Realty and Construction Company on October 13, 1915, the contract price being $860,036.50.

The cost of the Jerome Avenue line, exclusive of the equipment furnished by the operating company, is about $3,000,000.

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