The New Jersey Transit Corp (NJ Transit) has awarded a $1.56 billion contract to Skansa and Traylor Bros. for the construction of the Portal North Bridge. Spanning a critical section of the busy Northeast Corridor rail line, the bridge is one of the busiest in the entire Western Hemisphere.
200,000 Passengers A Day
Pre-pandemic, that’s how many people commuted on the 450 trains that crossed the aging Portal Bridge every day. Major service disruptions have long been notorious, making the awarding of this contract especially welcome news. As Construction Dive reports:
The long-awaited project will replace the 110-year-old swing bridge over New Jersey’s Hackensack River with a 50-foot-high model that won’t have to open and close to allow marine traffic through, the release said. The current bridge is infamous for regularly getting stuck in the open position and delaying NJ Transit and Amtrak commuters, which can have a ripple effect up and down the corridor.The new two-track span will be built next to the old bridge, and construction is expected to take five and a half years.
“Few infrastructure projects are as critical to the nation as replacing the aging Portal Bridge,” said New Jersey Governor…. “This award will not only bring a bridge that will resolve the long-standing bottlenecks plaguing New Jersey commuters, but will also create well-paying skilled labor jobs in the process.” The first track is slated to open in November 2025 and the last track could be put in service in July 2026, with full completion expected by 2027. The project will create 7,900 new full-time jobs in construction alone, according to NJ Transit spokesperson Mariluz Garcia-Diaz. The Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, state of New Jersey and Amtrak are funding the project. NJ Transit will be the primary owner, and Amtrak will maintain it.
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Part of an Even Bigger Project?
According to Construction Dive, the new Portal North Bridge project is part of a much larger effort, referred to as the Gateway Program, aimed at doubling rail capacity between Newark, New Jersey and New York City. For example, under the Hudson River, new tunnel construction, estimated at $11.6 billion, will rehabilitate the 110-year-old existing tunnels. Given the vision for dramatically improved commutes, lots of builders are eyeing projects in Newark, and renovation of the train station there is already underway.
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