FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Commuters should brace for another day of delays after Metro-North said it will operate on a Saturday schedule until further notice.
Crews are working around the clock to repair damage to the railroad’s Park Avenue Viaduct in New York City caused by a four-alarm fire underneath the viaduct on Tuesday evening, MTA said.
Trains began running on a Saturday schedule on Wednesday and will continue to do so on Thursday, MTA said. The schedule change affects the New Haven Line in Connecticut as well as the Harlem and Hudson Lines in New York.
Crowded trains were reported Wednesday morning along with delays of up to 90 minutes into Grand Central.
For service updates, visit mta.info or call 877-690-5114.
Between 5 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, all inbound trains and some outbound express trains will not make stops at Harlem-125th Street Station in order to relieve congestion.
Metro-North is charging off-peak fares due to the limited service.
Metro-North spokeswoman Nancy Gamerman praised the work crews.
"It's really quite amazing — this was a massive fire," she said. "Within hours, crews were out there, restoring service and working through the night."
The fire caused structural damage to one steel supporting column and three adjacent horizontal steel girders that run east-west along the width of the underside of the viaduct, the MTA said. They are known in engineering terminology as floor beam stringers.
Because of the structural damage, Metro-North has taken the inside two of the viaduct’s four tracks out of service, and put a speed restriction in place on the two outside tracks.
Workers are installing six temporary steel columns that will surround the damaged column and connect to it and to one another, the MTA said. Once in place, the seven columns, braced together, will function as a single structure that will bear the weight of the overhead viaduct until permanent repairs can be put in place.
As soon as the temporary repairs are completed, Metro-North will perform structural tests, including the impact of train movement over the viaduct, the MTA said. If testing proves successful, restricted speed train service could then resume. The construction and testing process is expected to take 24 to 48 hours to complete.
The fire did not cause any damage to Metro-North’s tracks, signals, or third rail power systems.
The massive four-alarm fire was at a local business at 118th Street under the railroad's Park Avenue Viaduct. Also, a string of propane tank exploded under the tracks at East 119th Street and Park Avenue, the MTA said.
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