Monday, October 16, 2017

Portal Bridge replacement project officially begins

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Officials gather to break ground on the Portal Bridge Replacement project. Officials gather to break ground on the Portal Bridge Replacement project. NJ Transit

Replacement of  Portal Bridge, a two-track 110-year-old swing span structure linking New Jersey and New York City on the Northeast Corridor, is under way. A recent groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction.

The bridge spans the Hackensack River in Kearny and Secaucus and has become known for malfunctioning and is a key project in the Gateway development program, which aims to improve rail transportation between New York City and New Jersey.

"The replacement of the aging Portal Bridge is the first step toward ensuring a sound and efficient rail transportation system that will serve millions of riders now and well into the future," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "This project is vital to our economy and the safety of millions of local commuters and people from around the world who use mass transportation along the Northeast Corridor. By working cooperatively with New York and federal lawmakers and officials, we hope to identify funding for this and the Hudson River tunnel projects that is fair and equitable for New Jersey taxpayers."

The Portal Bridge, built in 1907 and owned by Amtrak, is one of the heaviest trafficked railroad bridges in the Western Hemisphere. More than 500 Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains per day traverse the bridge and more than 58 million rail passengers annually use the bridge.

The original bridge will be replaced with two new fixed-span bridges, which will be built 53 feet above mean high water – more than double the height of the current bridge, allowing for higher speeds and an increase in train capacity.

Early construction contracts of about $20 million have been awarded to proceed with the Portal North Bridge, including construction of a finger pier, installation of new fiber optic cable poles, realignment of a transmission pole, construction of a steel bridge structure over the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority water main and construction of a retaining wall. Early construction work funding has been provided by NJ Transit and the U.S. Department of Transportation and local share funding for the balance of the Portal Bridge construction is in place through NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). The total project cost is estimated at $1.5 billion. Construction of the Portal South Bridge will come at a later date.

Last month, Governor Christie, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey and New York Congressional leaders met with President Donald Trump to discuss the nearly $30 billion Gateway project in an effort to secure half of the funding for the program. Gateway development also includes new tracks under the Hudson River, as well as repairs to existing tracks damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 through a cooperative effort involving the federal government, New Jersey, New York, PANYNJ and public/private partnerships.

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