The Northeast Corridor crosses the Hackensack River near Kearny, N.J. on what’s known as the Portal Bridge. This bridge is 110 years old and carries a combined daily total of 450 NJ Transit and Amtrak trains, with around 200,000 people aboard them.
The bridge is not popular with anyone. First, it’s a swing bridge, which means that trains will be delayed while the bridge is rotated 90 degrees to allow the passage of watercraft. Second, it sometimes gets stuck in the open position, adding to rail delays on one of the busiest lines in the country. According to NJ.com, this happened just last week. The news outlet also describes the bridge as “cantankerous, rusty, and delay-causing.”
Last night, the NJ Transit board gave the green light to working out an agreement with Amtrak, the owner of the bridge, to replace the Portal Bridge. Kevin Corbett, the CEO and president of NJ Transit said groundbreaking for construction of the new bridge could begin as early as spring 2021.
Corbett added “with the bad economy, [this project] creates 7,900 direct jobs [and now] is a good time to put it out to bid. This is essential infrastructure work we’ve been trying to get done for years. This is the right time to be doing it.”