NJ Transit OKs construction on new Portal North Bridge project
Construction to replace a century-old rail bridge that has been a regular source of delays on the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. has received the go-ahead to start.
New Jersey Transit announced Thursday it had issued a notice to proceed for the Portal North Bridge project, which will build a new bridge over the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey to replace a 112-year-old swing bridge that occasionally becomes stuck after opening to allow boats to pass underneath.
The bridge carries hundreds of Amtrak and commuter trains daily, and delays can affect trains up and down the northeastern U.S.
The new bridge is being built by a joint venture comprising Sweden-based Skanska and Traylor Brothers, a civil construction company based in Evansville, Indiana. Construction is expected to take between five and six years.
The Federal Transit Administration awarded a $766 million grant for the project last year; New Jersey Transit is contributing roughly $800 million and Amtrak about $260 million.
“After years of crucial behind the scenes work, this notice to proceed means train customers will soon see tangible evidence of our commitment to modernizing the rail system,” Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.
The bridge is part of the Gateway project, a broader effort to modernize and increase rail service in the New York metro region and which also includes a plan to build a new, $10 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River and expand New York’s Penn Station.
The tunnel, considered the centerpiece of Gateway, is expected to secure federal grants by the end of this year that, combined with billions committed by New Jersey, New York state and Amtrak, could lead to construction beginning in 2023.
While the new tunnel is being constructed, the century-old existing tunnel, prone to delays due to aging infrastructure exacerbated by saltwater flooding from 2012's Superstorm Sandy, would be refurbished and upgraded, eventually creating two tunnels that would increase capacity in and out of New York.