Skanska, Traylor Bros break ground on $1.56B Portal North Bridge

Dive Brief:

  • The $1.56 billion Portal North Bridge replacement broke ground last week. The project will accelerate rail freight and commutes for NJ Transit and Amtrak riders, and represents NJ Transit’s largest-ever construction award, according to a press release. A Skanska/Traylor Bros joint venture is building the new span.
  • The existing 111-year-old moveable bridge is infamous for regularly getting stuck when it swings up to let ships pass, delaying train commuters. This produces a ripple effect up and down the Northeast Corridor, which crosses eight states and Washington, D.C., and represents the nation’s most heavily used passenger line. 
  • The Portal North Bridge is a key piece of the larger Gateway Program, a series of rail initiatives dubbed the country’s “most urgent” infrastructure project. The new span will double rail capacity and reduce gridlock in the corridor, and will take approximately five and a half years to complete, per the release. 

Dive Insight:

The current 2.44-mile Portal North, which connects Secaucus, New York, and Kearny, New Jersey, will be replaced with a two-track, fixed-span bridge that will rise 50 feet over the Hackensack River to let marine traffic pass underneath without interrupting rail service. The new bridge will be built next to the old Portal North.

“This project turns the Portal North Bridge from a choke point to an access point. It modernizes the way that people and goods get to and from this region that is responsible for 20% of America’s economic product every year,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the release.

The contract costs cover construction of retaining walls, deep foundations, concrete piers, structural steel bridge spans, rail systems, demolition of the existing bridge and more. It’s funded by the DOT, Transportation Trust Fund, New Jersey Turnpike Authority and Amtrak. NJ Transit will be the bridge’s primary owner, but Amtrak will maintain it.

New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy said in the release the project would create “thousands of good-paying jobs.”

The Hudson River Tunnel, another critical Gateway project which entails new tunnels from New Jersey to Penn Station in New York City, also had some recent progress. The project is moving ahead after Murphy and Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York agreed to split costs last month

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