Friday, December 04, 2009

Portal Bridge Problems Create Delays For NJ Transit and Amtrak

If you've ever had to rely on NJ Transit or Amtrak along the Northeast Corridor, the Portal Bridge across the Hackensack River is the enemy of the schedule makers.

The decrepit bridge is responsible for more than its share of delays in the network, and today is no exception. Delays of up to an hour are being reported because the bridge was stuck in the upright position after letting river traffic through, and that was followed by an overhead wire problem and/or track problem limiting traffic.

The bridge was built in 1910 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and is owned and operated by Amtrak. NJ Transit trains operate over the tracks.

The bridge is scheduled to start in 2011 and be finished five years after that at a cost of $1.34 billion. The current movable two-track configuration will be replaced by two separate fixed span bridges. One three-track bridge will to the north of the existing span, and a two-track bridge will be to the South. The new spans will allow for higher speeds throughout the vicinity of the span; currently they are limited to 60mph, but adjacent sections can see speeds of up to 90mph.

Replacing this bridge is a priority in improving the reliability and speed along the Northeast Corridor.

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