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NJ Transit approves contract for Portal Bridge replacement

By | October 13, 2021

$1.56 billion contract is largest in transit agency’s history

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Rendering of bridge with two trains
Rendering of bridge with two trains
A rendering of the North Portal Bridge, which will replace a troublesome Northeast Corridor bridge in New Jersey (Amtrak)

TRENTON, N.J. — NJ Transit’s board of directors has approved a $1.56 billion contract — the largest in the agency’s history — for construction of the Portal North Bridge on the Northeast Corridor.

“Few infrastructure projects are as critical to the nation as replacing the aging Portal Bridge,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a press release. “With today’s step, NJ Transit is rapidly moving towards beginning the first phase of the largest infrastructure project in the United States. This award will not only bring a bridge that will resolve the long-standing bottlenecks plaguing New Jersey commuters, but will also create well-paying skilled labor jobs in the process.”

The Skanska/Traylor Bros. Joint Venture will receive the contract for the project, which is expected to take 5½ years to complete.

The project is being funded by the transit agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Amtrak, through an agreement completed last year [see “Digest: NJ Transit, Amtrak reach agreement to replace Portal Bridge,” Trains News Wire, July 28, 2020]. The new structure be a high-level, fixed-span bridge, replacing a more than century-old bridge swing.

The existing bridge over the Hackensack River  has frequently delayed rail service on the Corridor because of problems in locking back into place after opening to allow boat traffic to pass — a problem that led the U.S. Coast Guard to halt rush-hour openings of the bridge [see “Coast Guard to make permanent ban on rush-hour openings …,” News Wire, Oct. 2, 2019].

 

9 thoughts on “NJ Transit approves contract for Portal Bridge replacement

  1. “Few infrastructure projects are as critical to the nation as replacing the aging Portal Bridge,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said”

    Isn’t that what they say about the Holland Tunnel? Isn’t that what NY said about the new Tappan Zee?

    When are infrastructure projects just simply needed? Why does it need the national superlative?

    Dozens of highway bridges for major interstates are replaced every year in every state. None of them get a “national criticality” label on them.

  2. Time for the new bridge to be complete is stated as 5+ years. Why so long? Is this the actual construction time or is a big chunk needed for legal permits and approvals?

    Two years would be ideal, three years should be possible. Are actual plans and blueprints already in place? Let’s go, politicians.

    Roger Thomas

  3. Why are we wasting 1.5 billion dollars on a transportation system that is 225 years old. It is cheaper to drive and it takes 2 or 3 times longer to get somewhere and that is only one way . Who in there right mind sits on train extra 4 hours a day .
    We need a more modern transportation system. Train on tracks from the 1700s is not the way to go

  4. It’s in the NY area. Everything there is “critical to the nation.” Just ask them.

    It would save a huge amount of money to buy out or relocate every upstream water shipper and close the bridge to water traffic. The line, incidentally, dates to the opening of Penn Station and has been in service for 111 years.

  5. Be aware the original Portal Bridge was part of the Penn Station New York project (1903-10) whose total cost was 110 million dollars for THE ENTIRE THING! Serious inflation here–plus WHY does this bridge cost so much? I understand the clearance is being increased to 50 feet–and there is only one customer upriver requiring a drawspan. Have Congress buy that customer out and build a lower and cheaper fixed bridge minus the long approach embankments in a swamp which is probably where the cost lies.
    Then use the money for a tunnel connecting Penn Station with Grand Central and save 20-25 minutes through time on AMTK beyond NYC and drive the air shuttles out of business like AMTK did with the Harrisburg-Newark/NYC shuttle air route attempt of a few years back.

  6. Mr. Engel, regarding your pitch for an NYP-NYG connector, is it your plan that the WAS-BOS trains quit the Hell Gate Bridge Line in favor of running Metro North between Grand Central and New Rochelle? If so, how physically do you envision the connector entering Grand Central? Surely you aren’t suggesting a new station BELOW the two LIRR 4-track, two-platform caverns that are one above the other. Assuming Metro North has the capacity to handle these additional trains, especially between Grand Central and CP112 where the Harlem and New Haven Lines junction, what about the problem of the Amtrak ACS64s and the Acela trainsets not being equipped with third rail shoes? Metro North is not about to string wire between Grand Central (even if there is clearance in the Park Avenue tunnels) and Pelham.

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