Breaking ground for new Portal North Bridge in New Jersey

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Monday, August 1, 2022
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A long-delayed project to replace a heavily traveled 110-year-old rail bridge over the Hackensack River will finally move forward today.

KEARNY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A long-delayed project to replace a heavily traveled 110-year-old rail bridge over the Hackensack River is finally moving forward.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday morning for the Portal North Bridge, which will play a key role in the broader Gateway Program that will eventually double rail capacity between New Jersey and New York.

It represents a sigh of relief for many.

The current bridge is over 100 years old and has a long history of causing major service disruptions for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains heading to and from the tunnel that leads to New York's Penn Station.

The completed bridge will rise 50 feet over the Hackensack River and span nearly 2.5 miles of the Northeast Corridor.

The new bridge will also eliminate the movable components and risk of malfunction that has plagued the existing bridge for years, causing commuting nightmares.

Officials attending the groundbreaking included Governor Phil Murphy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senator Cory Booker and others.

"The esteemed elected officials, transportation executives, and union members gathered here today to celebrate a national milestone are evidence of what we can achieve when we band together as Americans in pursuit of a common purpose," Murphy said. "Safe, reliable, and modern infrastructure is about more than just getting to work on time. It's also about the thousands of good-paying jobs this project will create and the families they support. By improving connectivity, we will also promote economic opportunity, not just for New Jersey residents and commuters, but for the Northeast Corridor and our nation. The new Portal North Bridge symbolizes our lasting legacy and our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of all New Jerseyans."

The Portal North Bridge project spans 2.44 miles of the Northeast Corridor line and includes construction of retaining walls, deep foundations, concrete piers, structural steel bridge spans, rail systems, demolition of the existing bridge, and related incidental works.

The project will take four years to complete, and officials are promising it will be on time and on budget.

"This project turns the Portal North Bridge from a chokepoint to an access point," Buttigieg said. "It modernizes the way that people and goods get to and from this region that is responsible for 20 percent of America's economic product every year. I hope that this bridge will not only bring people to work and loved ones to where they need to be, but brings renewed confidence in our ability to get things done together. We are entering into a true infrastructure decade."

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bridge carried more than 450 daily Amtrak and NJ Transit trains and 200,000 daily passengers over the river.

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