St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

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Tom49801
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St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Tom49801 »

From a conversation heard between Amtrak P370-12 & the St Joseph Bridge Tender on June 12th @ 21:16 the work that has been going on at the swing bridge (Grand Rapids sub-division at mile post CG87.6) is to convert the bridge operations to remote control. Phase 1 is done & Phase 2 is starting & supposedly the bridge will be remotely operated from the town of Evansville, Indiana. The completion date for the work wasn't mentioned, nor, how many phases are involved.

Lately, there has been a lot of radio conversations being heard during the day between the Bridge Tender, CSX Bridge Workers & "Contractors" (no company name heard). I thought it was work being done due to mechanical issues the bridge may be having & last night was the 1st time I had heard the work was related to converting its operations to Remote Control.

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DaveO
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by DaveO »

I just searched the Federal Register. There were no entries regarding remote operation of that bridge.
I couldn't find on the Coast Guard website where remoting applications might reside.

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SD80MAC
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by SD80MAC »

The Coast Guard still has to sign off on such a request, which I don't really see happening.
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GTW6401
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by GTW6401 »

CSX does operate bridges remotely in other areas.

Most of the bridges in Tampa and Bradenton, Florida are controlled from the Alafia River.

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TSS
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by TSS »

Does anyone know what bridges are controlled by the center in Indiana? Relative to the St. Joe Bridge, do they open more or less often?

Personally, I would have concerns about a full-remote situation, but I think a hybrid model has some merit. For years, there have only been three bridge tenders. If one gets sick or goes on vacation, I would guess the other two have to work continuous 12 hour shifts until the third returns. That’s a terrible burden.

With remote control, the slow periods, nights and winters, could be delegated to the Indiana control center, and in the busy times—days, weekends, the summer—the bridge could be controlled locally. That way, local talent is retained, the local controls remain dusted off in case the internet goes down, but the local bridge tenders have some backup.

However, this is the railroad. I doubt they will be so prudent. It will probably be all or nothing, unless the Coast Guard mandates they retain a local operator on call.

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TSS
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by TSS »

Also: this isn’t the first time this rumor has popped up. Legend has it that when they did the first “remote control” work to move operations from the shack on the bridge to the blue shack on the shore, the ultimate intent was to transfer control to the dispatcher. It’s been more than a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but…

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Typhoon »

SD80MAC wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2024 9:29 am
The Coast Guard still has to sign off on such a request, which I don't really see happening.
Why not?

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Tom49801
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Tom49801 »

Found this link for a news article regarding the St Joseph Bridge going to remote control:

https://wsbt.com/news/local/csx-railroa ... s-michigan

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

Michigan has at least one remote-operation drawbridge, the Conrail Bridge over the Rouge River in Detroit. I’m not sure who operates it or from where-does CR Shared assets have its own dispatchers near Philly? Either way, the operational nuances are highly different between this and St. Joe. At CR Bridge, the train line is busy, and marine movements are fairly few. And the boats that would need the bridge raised are BIG. Freighters, tugboats, barges. Basically no recreational traffic would require a bridge lift. In St. Joe in the other hand, there are up to about 8 train moves a day, but a lot of water traffic. Plenty of recreational “mariners” use that harbor, and not all of them are knowledgeable about following the rules of the “road.”

Would the fact that this bridge is on a passenger line cause an additional level of scrutiny?

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SD80MAC
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by SD80MAC »

People in the marine world are saying no way, people in the railroad world are saying absolutely. I guess we’ll see!
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Typhoon »

GP30M4216 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2024 10:48 am
Michigan has at least one remote-operation drawbridge, the Conrail Bridge over the Rouge River in Detroit. I’m not sure who operates it or from where-does CR Shared assets have its own dispatchers near Philly? Either way, the operational nuances are highly different between this and St. Joe. At CR Bridge, the train line is busy, and marine movements are fairly few. And the boats that would need the bridge raised are BIG. Freighters, tugboats, barges. Basically no recreational traffic would require a bridge lift. In St. Joe in the other hand, there are up to about 8 train moves a day, but a lot of water traffic. Plenty of recreational “mariners” use that harbor, and not all of them are knowledgeable about following the rules of the “road.”

Would the fact that this bridge is on a passenger line cause an additional level of scrutiny?
I am not sure why Michigan would be special, however I see no reason for it. Take a look at the FEC/Brightline bridge in Fort Lauderdale. Way more traffic, passenger, freight trains and boating traffic, then St Joseph, and is controlled in Jacksonville. There is nothing to keep things status quo in St Joe.

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by CSXT8390 »

It is my understanding that the bridge tenders at St. Joe hold seniority positions as clerks. The clerk position has been eliminated across CSX (at least in the northern region) and as such they are legacy employees. They will remain in their job until they retire and when they do so, their positions will be eliminated permanently. I don’t know how much seniority the current bridge tenders have, but CSX would have to either find a new place for them or buy them out in order to eliminate their positions before they retire.
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by GRHC »

TSS wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:05 am
Also: this isn’t the first time this rumor has popped up. Legend has it that when they did the first “remote control” work to move operations from the shack on the bridge to the blue shack on the shore, the ultimate intent was to transfer control to the dispatcher. It’s been more than a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but…
Here’s a picture of the CTC board located in the bridge tenders shack prior to operations being moved to the blue shack on the shore.
IMG_2249.jpeg
Thanks to Andy Gras for giving me permission to use this photo.

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by chapmaja »

TSS wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:05 am
Also: this isn’t the first time this rumor has popped up. Legend has it that when they did the first “remote control” work to move operations from the shack on the bridge to the blue shack on the shore, the ultimate intent was to transfer control to the dispatcher. It’s been more than a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but…
I think you will see the operations moved to remote control WHEN, the bridge tender's retire from CSX. I would guess that these are contract positions with the railroad and, as others have mentioned, CSX would have to buy them out to move them prior to them actually retiring. I don't think management wants to do that, so they will still continual to have manual operation until such time as the tenders retire.

Remember, the rumors about this moved have been going on for years, so not only does the railroad and the public know about this rumor, so does the union. You can bet the union would neogiate a deal to keep their employee(s) in place as long as possible.

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Tom49801 »

chapmaja wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2024 11:13 am
TSS wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:05 am
Also: this isn’t the first time this rumor has popped up. Legend has it that when they did the first “remote control” work to move operations from the shack on the bridge to the blue shack on the shore, the ultimate intent was to transfer control to the dispatcher. It’s been more than a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but…
I think you will see the operations moved to remote control WHEN, the bridge tender's retire from CSX. I would guess that these are contract positions with the railroad and, as others have mentioned, CSX would have to buy them out to move them prior to them actually retiring. I don't think management wants to do that, so they will still continual to have manual operation until such time as the tenders retire.

Remember, the rumors about this moved have been going on for years, so not only does the railroad and the public know about this rumor, so does the union. You can bet the union would neogiate a deal to keep their employee(s) in place as long as possible.
For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of work going on at the St Joseph Bridge with CSX personnel & contractors with testing heard being done with the bridge open, partially opened, etc. Speculation has been heard the bridge will be going to remote control in about 1 1/2 years and to be remotely operated from somewhere in Indiana. For the present CSX bridge tenders, their jobs would be abolished & they would "bump" an employee junior to them on their union's seniority roster to take that position & the "bumped employee" would then look for a position held by a junior employee on the seniority roster to "bump" (domino effect we used to call it).

Here's a news article from this past June regarding the bridge going to remote:

https://wsbt.com/news/local/csx-railroa ... s-michigan

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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Jetlink »

Tom49801 wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2024 9:36 am
chapmaja wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2024 11:13 am
TSS wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:05 am
Also: this isn’t the first time this rumor has popped up. Legend has it that when they did the first “remote control” work to move operations from the shack on the bridge to the blue shack on the shore, the ultimate intent was to transfer control to the dispatcher. It’s been more than a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but…
I think you will see the operations moved to remote control WHEN, the bridge tender's retire from CSX. I would guess that these are contract positions with the railroad and, as others have mentioned, CSX would have to buy them out to move them prior to them actually retiring. I don't think management wants to do that, so they will still continual to have manual operation until such time as the tenders retire.

Remember, the rumors about this moved have been going on for years, so not only does the railroad and the public know about this rumor, so does the union. You can bet the union would neogiate a deal to keep their employee(s) in place as long as possible.
For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of work going on at the St Joseph Bridge with CSX personnel & contractors with testing heard being done with the bridge open, partially opened, etc. Speculation has been heard the bridge will be going to remote control in about 1 1/2 years and to be remotely operated from somewhere in Indiana. For the present CSX bridge tenders, their jobs would be abolished & they would "bump" an employee junior to them on their union's seniority roster to take that position & the "bumped employee" would then look for a position held by a junior employee on the seniority roster to "bump" (domino effect we used to call it).

Here's a news article from this past June regarding the bridge going to remote:

https://wsbt.com/news/local/csx-railroa ... s-michigan
Wow. Actually a decent article. The report does some research, talks to more than one party, is thorough, accurate, and adds no bias. It is not overly long but very well done.
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Firemedic Mike
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by Firemedic Mike »

Here is a much more accurate article that goes into the process: https://www.facebook.com/share/NHy236g9 ... tid=WC7FNe

I will say that I have talked extensively with the Coast Guard’s Bridge Office, and CSX hasn’t even begun the application process. And even once they do, there is no guarantee it would get approved. Time will tell.
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Re: St Joseph, Mi Swing Bridge Going Remote

Unread post by M.D.Bentley »

Some railway clerk agreements. Have a nice clause in them. That states that even if all the jobs are gone and there is nothing left for them to do. They will be paid until retirement age. Conrail tried to eliminate the clerks completely! And then someone read the agreement! Called them back to work and tried to make them do stuff that was outside of the scope of their duties! Talk about backfire! They ended up sitting around until they retired. The getting paid either way clause! :-)

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