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MBTA - Hyde Park Avenue Overpass

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MBTA Hyde Park Avenue Overpass

Photo taken by Ian Martin in August 2014

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BH Photo #290846

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Description 

Currently carries MBTA Franklin Branch (MBTA Fairmount Line) and CSX Readville yard leads over Hyde Park Avenue at milepost 0.05 (formerly milepost 9.11) in the Readville section of Hyde Park, Boston. Was originally part of Boston & New York Air Line/New England Railroad/NYNH&H Midland Division route into Boston. Original width was set to carry 9 tracks, carrying only 5 now in addition to part of a parking lot.

MBTA Historical Property Survey 

Written by Mary E. McCahon

"As a result of the simultaneous development of independent rail lines from the southside of Boston, the Boston and Providence and New England railroads paralleled and actually crossed in the Readville section of Hyde Park. Additionally, several major highways intersected the rail lines, which carried as many as 200 trains a day in the late 1890s. The severity of the problem was acknowledged in the early 1890s when the state legislature, acting through specially appointed commissions, recommended a major grade crossing elimination program on all lines running from Boston to Dedham. By 1895 all of the lines had been acquired by the New Haven, with the only New England line being called the Midland Division, and the old Boston and Providence line was known as the Providence Division.

The pre-existing combination of grade crossings, under crossings, and over crossings near the Readville Stations (one servicing each line) made it an expensive and complicated matter to abolish the two rail grade crossings located within 60' of one another on Milton Street, as well as the intersection of Hyde Park Avenue with Milton Street and the Midland division line. 'Hyde Park Avenue was discontinued where it crossed the Midland Division and relocated, beginning at its junction with Milton Street and running northwesterly 60 feet wide, passing under the Midland Division and curving to the right an then running northeasterly, passing over the electric track connection bridge to the old location of Hyde Park Avenue. Milton Street was discontinued from Prescott Street to Regent Street and relocated, beginning at the new location of Hyde Park Avenue about 350 feet north of where it passed under the Midland Division and running westerly 60 feet wide, passing over the Providence Division main line, the Midland Division connecting tracks, and the Dedham Branch tracks, then turning and running southwesterly 50 feet wide to the old junction of Milton and Regent Streets.'

One of the most visible landmarks from the late 19th century crossing improvement program is the handsome, well-preserved, skewed stone arch bridge that carries the Midland Division over the realigned Hyde Park Avenue. The bridge is the largest, most ambitious stone arch bridge in the Boston area, and it represents the application of traditional technology to a difficult engineering problem. 'The foundation was of piles, driven in quicksand and cut off about 11.5 feet below the street grade. The spring of the arch was 8 inches above the street grade and 9 feet back from the street line, thus giving an economical distribution of masonry with a maximum resistance of foundation. The ring stones were 2 feet 6 inches deep, except on the face, where they were made deeper for better architectural effect. (The crown is 15 feet high).

The upper surface of the arch and backing was water-proofed with four thicknesses of tarred paper thoroughly mopped with tar and covered with 3 inches of tar concrete. Passing on a skew through the southerly haunch of the arch, there were constructed two arched stairway openings, 8 feet wide, leading up to the platforms between the Midland Division passenger tracks. Particular care was required in designing the groined arch stones for these stairway openings. The westerly face of the arch was constructed at an angle of 77 degrees, and the easterly face at an angle of 61 degrees with the axis of the arch, with necessary spandrel face walls capped with a dressed coping.'" - Massachusetts Historical Commission (Mary E. McCahon, MBTA Historic Property Survey, 10/1988)

Quotes within essay are sourced from: Tuttle, Arthur, "The Abolition of Grade Crossings on the Providence Division..."Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies. Vol. XXVII, No. 5 (November, 1901), pp 163-169.

Facts 

Overview
Stone arch bridge over Hyde Park Avenue on MBTA Fairmount Line
Location
Readville, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Status
Open to railway traffic, and to vehicle and pedestrian traffic below
History
Built 1898
Railroads
- CSX Railroad (CSX)
- Commuter Rail
- Conrail (CR)
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
- New York & New England Railroad (NYNE)
- New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NH)
- Penn Central Railroad (PC)
Design
Skewed stone arch
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 78.0 ft.
Total length: 165.0 ft.
Deck width: 75.0 ft.
Skew angle
61 degrees
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Hyde Park Avenue Railroad Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.23808, -71.13246   (decimal degrees)
42°14'17" N, 71°07'57" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/324050/4678412 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Norwood
Inventory numbers
MassDOT B16171
FRA 536825P
MHC BOS.9388
BH 61846 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 23, 2016: Photos imported by Dave King
  • March 21, 2015: New Street View added by Erich Pfistner
  • August 8, 2014: New photo from Ian Martin
  • July 23, 2014: New Street View added by Ian Martin