this resource - Northeast Corridor

PORTAL BRIDGE
REPLACEMENT PROJECT
The Portal Bridge Replacement Project will replace an aging obsolete bridge with a new
fixed-span bridge resulting in enhanced capacity and reliability along the Northeast Corridor.
PROJECT OVERVIEW
The Portal Bridge is a two-track, moveable, swing-span bridge
that crosses over the Hackensack River in Hudson County, New
Jersey connecting Newark, New Jersey and Penn Station, New
York. This section of the Northeast Corridor is used solely by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit commuter rail service. Constructed
over a century ago, the bridge is one of the oldest pieces of infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor. Due to its age and intensity of use, the bridge is costly and difficult to maintain in working order. The bridge, which hosts about 450 trains per weekday,
creates a bottleneck along the busy Northeast Corridor that conflicts with marine traffic, limits operating speeds and impedes
efficient and reliable passenger rail service. The bridge requires
replacement in order to meet expected future travel demand.
Amtrak and New Jersey Transit have completed several planning
studies over the years culminating with final design and federal
environmental review to replace the aging bridge. The result is
planned construction of a new bridge known as Portal North
Bridge. The Portal North Bridge is designed as a new two-track,
high-level, fixed span bridge, eliminating the moveable components and risk of malfunction. Its design also eliminates the navigational conflicts caused by the present bridge. The new bridge
Portal North Bridge, a new fixed-span, high-level bridge,
is fully designed and ready for construction.
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PROJECT SUMMARY
Timeline
Estimated 5-year construction period
Cost
$940 million (2013 estimate)
Partners
New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and US DOT Federal Railroad Administration
was estimated to cost approximately $940 million in 2013 dollars and will proceed with the cooperation of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, as soon as funding can be secured. The recently
completed design process involved a preliminary design phase
for which costs of $31 million were shared between New Jersey
Transit and Amtrak, and final design, funded by a Federal Railroad Administration grant of $38.5 million.
A second, two-track Portal South Bridge is proposed as part of
the Gateway Program and when complete will double train capacity along this critical length of the Northeast Corridor. Planning and design of Portal South Bridge will be finalized following
the completion of the federal NEC FUTURE study and environmental review process.
Amtrak Northeast Corridor Infrastructure & Investment Development
SPRING 2015
The existing Portal Bridge was built in 1910 and serves approximately 450 NJ Transit and Amtrak trains every weekday.
PROJECT BENEFITS
Eliminates moveable span—The existing bridge has a moveable swing span that due to age and design is not capable
of meeting the future travel demand along the Northeast
Corridor. Built as a fixed span bridge, the new Portal North
Bridge will improve capacity and reliability by eliminating
the operational and maintenance challenges that come with
opening and closing a bridge up to several times a day for
maritime traffic.
Improves reliability—Due to several factors including age,
design and a complicated maintenance schedule, service reliability along the existing Portal Bridge has become more and
more problematic. A mechanical malfunction during a bridge
opening can cause the bridge to be open for long periods of
time which can result in delays up and down the Northeast
Corridor. Even when it does operate normally, a single bridge
opening will delay many trains due to the volume of train
traffic. The construction of Portal North Bridge will improve
service reliability of all Amtrak intercity and New Jersey Transit commuter services in one of the most heavily used rail line
sections in the world.
Increases train speeds—While trains can operate at 90 mph
on adjacent portions of the Northeast Corridor, speeds on the
existing Portal Bridge have been permanently restricted to 60
mph. The construction of Portal North Bridge is designed for
speeds up to 90 mph providing a consistent level of train operation across the span.
Removes conflicts with maritime traffic—The existing Portal Bridge has only 23 feet of clearance between the water
and the lowest elevation of the bridge, requiring it to open
for numerous marine vessels, thereby disrupting Northeast
Corridor train operations. Its center pier design creates navigational conflicts for the larger vessels. The existing bridge is
also closed to marine traffic during the peak travel periods,
making it difficult for marine operators to properly serve
shippers. Portal North Bridge will be built as a high-level,
fixed-span bridge with 53 feet of clearance providing ample
space for maritime travel without impact to Northeast Corridor train operations.
Visit NEC.Amtrak.com for more information on the Gateway
Program and other NEC infrastructure investments.
The existing Portal Bridge requires frequent maintenance
and repairs due to its age and intensity of use.
Amtrak Northeast Corridor Infrastructure & Investment Development
SPRING 2015
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