(The Center Square) – State and federal officials gathered Monday to break ground on a new Portal North Bridge over the Hackensack River along the Northeast Corridor.
“When the Portal Bridge was built, it was state-of-the-art, and it was, 110 years ago,” President Joe Biden said in an announcement. “Today, it’s been called something different, a chokepoint, a bottleneck, an Achilles’ Heel to the Northeast Corridor. Since the Portal Bridge was built, it has become the busiest rail span in the entire Western Hemisphere.”
The new bridge is part of the Gateway Program, a project to upgrade to a more than 2.4-mile-long section of the busy rail line. Officials say the project, which includes a new tunnel beneath the Hudson River and is expected to take more than five years to complete, will “eventually” double rail capacity between Newark and New York.
The Portal North Bridge project includes the demolition of the existing bridge and the construction of retaining walls, foundations, concrete piers, structural steel bridge spans and other rail systems.
“The start of construction on Portal North Bridge – the first major project of the broader Gateway Program – is a milestone decades in the making and a huge accomplishment for New Jersey, the Northeast Corridor, and the nation,” Amtrak Board Chairman and Gateway Development Commission Vice-Chair Tony Coscia said in an announcement.
Earlier this month, the NJ Transit Board of Directors approved a nearly $1.6 billion contract to replace the aging bridge. The project is projected to cost about $1.9 billion and is funded by $766.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and money from NJ Transit and Amtrak.
“Replacing the Portal North Bridge is a significant milestone for the region’s efforts to improve and expand rail service,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in an announcement.