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New crossing will expand rail capacity across the Hackensack River

July 11, 2007
Contact: Penny Bassett Hackett or Dan Stessel 973 491-7078

NEWARK, NJ — The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved funding for the final phase of environmental work regarding Portal Bridge, a nearly 100-year-old span that carries Northeast Corridor train traffic over the Hackensack River just west of Secaucus Junction.

Today’s action authorizes completion of the Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS), coordinating the Portal Bridge project with the Access to the Region’s Core project, which features a new two-track tunnel under the Hudson River being built over the next decade.

“A new Portal Bridge crossing will have an immediate impact on thousands of our customers by reducing delays associated with the bridge’s operation,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles. “Addressing this aging bridge is a necessity in its own right, but it’s of vital importance viewed in the context of the Access to the Region’s Core.”

The new Portal Bridge crossing will need to accommodate increased peak-period train traffic. The existing two-track span, which was placed into service in 1910, now operates near capacity during peak periods, carrying 23 trains per hour in the peak direction.

The new crossing is being designed to reduce the number of times it will need to be opened and to reduce the time needed to complete an open-and-close sequence. The existing swing bridge pivots open to permit marine traffic to pass, forcing Northeast Corridor Line, North Jersey Coast Line and MidTOWN DIRECT trains to wait.

The board amended the DEIS contract with AKRF Inc. and authorized the firm to prepare the FEIS, for a total authorization of $5.3 million.

NJ TRANSIT will continue to advance the project in partnership with Amtrak, owner of the existing bridge, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing nearly 857,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.