The state has received a grant to move forward with a project to replace a 105-year-old bridge that is a frequent chokepoint for Northeast rail commuters.
The state’s congressional delegation announced a $16 million grant to New Jersey Transit for the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River on Monday.
The swing bridge was completed in the early 20th century and must open and shut for boats to pass through. It regularly becomes stuck when trying to close and is considered one of the chief trouble spots along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Problems at the bridge contributed to more than 200 delays between the beginning of 2013 and mid-2014, NJ Transit said. Commuters and intercity rail riders make about 260 million trips annually on the corridor, Amtrak said.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez said the bridge “has become the poster child for what happens when we fail to invest in our aging infrastructure — major delays for thousands of commuters, lost time and money for businesses and a drain on our national and local economies.”
The grant announced Monday will be used for electrical and fiber optic work, a retaining wall and other projects to enable further construction. Roughly $5 million will be spent on a pier extending from the river’s western shore to allow millions of pounds of steel, concrete and piping for the replacement bridge to be transported by water rather than on local roads.
NJ Transit and Amtrak collaborated to get design and engineering work completed for a new bridge that would be high enough for boats to pass under, but about $1 billion is still needed to build it.
The bridge is part of Amtrak’s Gateway project, which also includes a new Hudson River tunnel and expanded Penn Station in New York.
Filed Under: Infrastructure