TRANSPORTATION Feed

Wire train removes old catenary wire above train tracks

Septa catenary wire

This video depicts SEPTA’s flotilla-like “wire train” renewing the catenary wire above the tracks on the R7 Chestnut Hill East line as it works its way past the Mount Airy train station. The wires become worn after decades of use. The workers are taking down old catenary wire, dropping and sliding it into the gondola for scrap metal. The new catenary wire is already in place and running trains. Naturally, for the safety of the workers, the catenary is de-energised and grounded.

The following description is from a SEPTA blog post of July 13, 2017
“In our world, a catenary is a system of overhead wires used to supply electricity to a locomotive, streetcar, or light rail vehicle which is equipped with a pantograph. The pantagraph presses against the underside of the lowest overhead wire, the contact wire.
Current collectors are electrically conductive and allow current to flow through to the train and back to the feeder station through the steel wheels on one or both running rails. Unlike simple overhead wires, in which the uninsulated wire is attached by clamps to closely spaced crosswires supported by poles, catenary systems use at least two wires. The catenary or messenger wire is hung at a specific tension between line structures, and a second wire is held in tension by the messenger wire, attached to it at frequent intervals by clamps and connecting wires known as droppers. The second wire is straight and level, parallel to the rail track, suspended over it as the roadway of a suspension bridge is over water.
Simple wire installations are common in light rail, especially on city streets, while more expensive catenary systems are suited to high-speed operations.
The Northeast Corridor in the United States has catenary over the 600 miles (1000 km) between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. for Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express and other trains. Commuter rail agencies including MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, and Metro-North Railroad utilize the catenary to provide local service.
Overhead line equipment can be adversely affected by strong winds causing swinging wires. Power storms can knock the power out with lightning strikes on systems with overhead wires, stopping trains if there is a power surge. During cold or frosty weather, there is a risk of ice build-up on overhead lines. This can result in poor electrical contact between the collector and the overhead line, resulting in electrical arcing and power surges.
On the Media/Elwyn Line, we're working on replacing 17 miles of 80+ year old overhead catenary wire. We're also building/installing new catenary support poles.”


Urban youth equestrian program acquires pony cart for some fun

Lezlie hiner pony cart
Pony cart bikeTo save a rusted but sturdy pony driving cart from the dumpster, your correspondent and his spouse attached it to the back of our car and towed it home. A driving cart is meant for a leisure ride for two people drawn by a horse or pony. The retail value of a new one is upwards of $500. Luckily we were able to find it a new home. Lezlie Hiner is the founder of the acclaimed Work to Ride organization based at Chamonix Equestrian Center in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Work to Ride is an award winning horsemanship and polo program for urban youth. As long as they commit to the hard work of tending to the horses and doing stable chores such as mucking out stalls the kids can ride. Hiner plans to teach one of the program’s 33 horses how to drive the cart (after studying up herself) and doesn’t expect it to be too hard. She thinks it will be fun for the kids to take the cart out in Fairmount Park, once they get a seat attached, perhaps out along Kelly or West River Drive. She anticipates that all the kids will want a chance. Many years ago Hiner had a horse out at an old hog farm in Lafayette Hill, PA when polo-playing friends introduced her to the sport. The rest is history. After we loaded the cart into the bed of her pick-up truck, she tied it to the car’s frame with a slip knot, used in tethering horses. For your correspondent’s edification, she demonstrated it twice. “Got that?” At the time of publication, Work to Ride had posted a short video of the kids enjoying the cart- being pulled through the barn by one of them pedaling a bicycle! Watch interview here with founder of urban youth equestrian program about the pony cart.

 


Planes land in quick succession at small airport

Wings field landing airplane - 1

Last year we were driving by Wings Field, a small airport just outside of Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1928. We noticed some people siting on lawn chairs atop a small knoll directly across the street from the one landing strip watching the action. Just a few weeks ago we decided to follow suit.

The airport was busy, especially with what appeared to be practice or training flights. About four planes landed in approximately a three three minute interval as confirmed by the time stamp on the videos we took. One red and white plane, remaining within our sight, took off and landed at least four times. Some planes overshot the runway on their approach and had to make corrections. A couple others took somewhat sharp turns to line up with the runway and descended steeply. Twice a plane came in for touchdown, likely too far near the end of runway and ascended again without landing.

These practice flights were interspersed with commuter flights. After these landings we saw cars exit the parking lot. Occasionally we exchanged congratulatory waves with the drivers who only minutes before had been airborne.

The aircraft we saw were all propeller planes of different vintage. One larger plane that appeared to seat four or more had its wing above the cockpit , evoking the Spirit of St. Louis. It was followed by a shiny sleek new model that looked like a hornet.

Watch video of airplanes landing in quick succession here. For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wings_Field

Wings Airport administration has been asked to contribute to this story and it will be updated when new information becomes available.


Paint the Cresheim Bridge Mural! Open Call for Artists

 

Cresheim railroad bridge mural arts philadelphia

OCTOBER 3, 2019 UPDATE: SUBSTANTIAL DELAYS IN PROJECT,  DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Bradley Maule, pictured above reports:

"As yet, there is nothing new to report. The mural and trail are both still going to happen, but we don't have a precise timeline yet. The funding has to come from several sources, and some of the grants that we'll be applying to go in annual cycles. The mural will need to happen concurrently to the construction of the trail on the trestle so as to minimize disruption on Germantown Avenue (so likely overnight). We'll hopefully have a clearer view of both projects in the coming months, at which time we'll issue a statement. Thanks for checking in."

Mural Arts Jane Golden and Cathy Harris have yet to respond to the question posed October 3, 2019 "Will you open the call for artists again since it will soon be be nearly two years since the call went out (February 26, 2018)? "

5/21/2018 UPDATE:  According to Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, the selection committee is seeking additional submissions but anyone visiting the official website for the project http://mtairyusa.org/cresheimproject/ would not know that the deadline of April 13  for artist submissions has been extended.

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Before a couple dozen community members at the newly renovated Lovett Library this past Monday evening, Cathy Harris of Philadelphia Mural Arts issues a call for artists to design a mural for the rusted abandoned railway trestle over Germantown Avenue below Cresheim Valley Drive. First envisioned fifteen years ago, the project is being relaunched now that the City of Philadelphia is acquiring the former Pennsylvania Railroad trestle from PECO. Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, a project partner, provided historical information on the structure and Mural Arts founder Jane Golden encouraged attendees to "spread the word" to artists to answer the "Call for Submissions." The Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2018. Your correspondent has posted a PDF of the "Cresheim Trail Mural Project Call for Submissions" here until it becomes available online from the collaborative which also includes the Trolley Car Diner, Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Chestnut Hill Rotary, the Mount Airy Learning Tree and ChestnutHIllPa. The abandoned railroad is being converted to a trail linking Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill with Springfield Township. See reporter Sue Ann Rybak's coverage in the January 18, 2018 Chestnut Hill Local The mural’s completion is intended to coincide with the opening of the extension to the existing trail which begins at Allens Lane and Lincoln Drive. In June the public is welcomed to vote "in several community locations" to choose a winner from among a handful of proposals narrowed down by Mural Arts. After the meeting, I approached Sam Hanna who had been intently taking notes during the presentations. As a business account manager for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Hanna planned to relay what he had learned to a client. While in prison for twenty years, that client began to do art. And after getting out last year at the time of the Monday evening meeting, was at a job he had just started. Things are looking up.

(In the photo left to right -standing:  Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, Jane Golden and Cathy Harris of Mural Arts Philadelphia, seated 2nd from left- Sam Hanna of CEO and Judy Weinstein of MALT)

Video of public meeting by  Mural Arts collaborative in call for artists to submit design for old rusty railroad bridge in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.


Boat built in six hours, from free seas to art gallery

Mare liberum free seas punt boat mural
Chloe Wang fell in love with the lower Schuylkill River after she put in the river down by Bartram’s Gardens. The boat was an English style flat-bottomed canal "punt" that she and other Haverford College students had just built earlier in the day during a breakneck 6-hour workshop led by the Brooklyn based activist artist boat-building collaborative, Mare Liberum, www.thefreeseas.org That was 2015. Now she works for Bartram’s Gardens in its community boathouse program. The initiative allows people to take out kayaks and rowboats on the river for free on Saturdays from April to October. Just this year the “punt” was pulled from storage and dusted off. Wang was invited by Mare Liberum to help paint a mural on the bottom depicting the river’s tides and the non-humans that inhabit the river environment for a new exhibit on the Hudson and Schuylkill rivers at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Painted on one side is a black silhouette of downtown Philadelphia, on the other the silhouette of the South Philadelphia oil refineries: both border the river. Your correspondent engaged Wang in the art gallery some minutes before the Center’s annual Richard James lecture, honoring its founder, which this year featured experts discussing “Water: Peril and Promise.” Watch video interview of college student who built then navigated canal boat,then painted mural on bottom for nature center gallery exhibit on rivers.


New tire laser reading at auto dealer

Tire tread laser reading hunter engineering

I finally got around to having my car's defective Takata airbag replaced and driving into the dealership, discovered that the service area had been completely renovated into a covered structure with multiple lances. Conicelli Honda in Conshohocken is one of the first in the nation to be equipped with new Hunter Engineering automated technology according to service advisor Russ Hauer. As explained by Hauer and demonstrated by Assistant Service Manager Marc Varallo, as you drive into the service area over a red plate, a laser in the device reads your tire tread depth. Simultaneously, a camera takes of a photo of your license plate; the system is tied in to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and brings up your Vehicle Identification Number so there is no need to present your car registration for manual entry. A valet takes your car and you then walk inside the waiting area where a service agent greets you and promptly presents you with a graphic printout of the condition of your tires and whether a tire rotation or replacement are recommended. See new auto tire laser reading technology and interview here.


Market will drive your groceries home

Save A Lot drives your groceries home

​Save A Lot grocery stores will drive you home after you shop and, as one sly driver pointed out, will drive your groceries home, too. The driver says he's back at his store for another trip every ten minutes. A $60 minimum purchase is required to hop aboard and your destination should not be more than 2 and a half miles from the store. Your correspondent conducted this interview at the Chew Ave and Washington Lane store, formerly home to a Bottom Dollar food store, where cherries were on sale for $1.99 a pound and tasty they were but cannot vouch for whether they were ethically sourced. Watch video here.


Moroccan Uber Driver's American Dream

Uber driver from Morocco near perfect

Adil Tijer, an immigrant from Morocco, drives a “black car” for Uber, a service which connects riders with drivers through its mobile apps. On your correspondent’s first trip with Uber, Tijer explained driver licensing, passenger insurance and Uber’s rating system. But for the occasional late night drunk, Tijer’s rating might be a perfect 5-star.  The rating system works both ways. Uber drivers get to rate their riders, too, and drivers can refuse to accept a fare. Watch video ride and interview here.

Tijer worked previously as a medical assistant and pizza deliveryman. He visits friends and family back home every year and describes his country as a democracy, tolerant of different religious practices, where the people love their king. Tijer, now an American citizen, came to the U.S. as one of the quota-set 2500 Moroccans who won the lottery some years ago and hopes to own his own store one day. He lives in Northeast Philadelphia where he says there is a sizable Moroccan community. Watch video interview here.