Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Rep. Pascrell Announces $16M Grant for Transit Portal Bridge

Sep 21, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced today that a $16 million federal grant to replace the century-old Portal Bridge, a major bottleneck point along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and supported by a letter from Rep. Pascrell to USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx in support of the grant last June.  

"The work now can begin to make sure this major transit crossing is modernized and expanded. We are talking about a crossing that affects all rail traffic all along the Atlantic Coast.,” said Rep. Pascrell. “New Jersey commuters deserve this federal investment, and the decaying bridge that sits in my district will no longer be a weak link in our nation's rail system or a danger to the commuters from New Jersey and beyond. While our governor has put a stake in large-scale infrastructure investments, the federal government hasn't turned its back on the future of our roads and rails and runways.”

The replacement project would not only increase efficiency and safety on the nation’s busiest rail corridor, it would create thousands of good-paying jobs, hundreds of which will be created through the work funded by this grant.

Built in 1910, concurrent with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s extension from New Jersey into Manhattan, the Portal Bridge is a linchpin in the Northeast Corridor which carries nearly 500 trains and thousands of passengers daily over a moveable swing bridge across the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus.   Because of the limited vertical clearance (23 feet), the bridge must frequently open for marine traffic.  It is prone to mechanical failures, subjected to a 60 miles-per-hour speed restriction, the source of substantial delays, and at the end of its useful life. The replacement structure will be a high-level fixed bridge capable of speeds of 90 mph.

The project has completed the preliminary and final engineering phase and secured the necessary environmental approvals and permits from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). Amtrak submitted a letter of support for the project.

The $16 million grant will support the following early construction activities:

1)  138kV Transmission Monopole Realignment – prior to the construction of the eastern structural approach spans to the Hackensack River Network Tied Arch bridge, an obstructing monopole located north of the NEC carrying the 138kV transmission lines that power the overhead catenary system, must be replaced with two new monopoles. These new monopoles, one to the south of the NEC, adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Boonton Line and the other to the north of the NEC further to the west will allow proper transmission alignment.   The selected transmission monopole structure fabricator will perform in-house testing on the monopoles prior to shipping to the job site. Once the monopole sections arrive on site, the poles will be constructed on the concrete foundation.  The 138kV transmission wire, signal power and ground wires will be installed by Amtrak.

Estimated Construction Cost:  $6.90 million
Location/Properties Traversed:  Amtrak & Norfolk Southern Right-of Ways

2)  Temporary Fiber Optic Cable Pole Line - Two existing aerial fiber optic cables (FOCs) as well as Amtrak’s own FOCs, are currently attached to the traction power catenary structures that straddle the NEC through the area of the Project.  In addition, there are buried FOCs located along the NEC.  These FOCs are the main trunk lines into New York City and are of vital importance to the communications network along the East Coast including data transmission to Wall Street. The FOCs need to relocated while the Northern Bridge is under construction. This task will involve the construction of new poles north of the NEC on property to be obtained with a temporary construction easement from the local town. The concrete pole foundations, poles and mounting arms will be installed during this task.  The FOCs will be relocated onto the new poles by the individual cable owners themselves.  Environmental permits to allow for this relocation have already been acquired.

Estimated Construction Cost:  $1.77 million
Location/Properties Traversed:  Town of Kearny

3)  Northwest Finger Pier (West Shore) – a construction access structure extending from the west shore of the Hackensack River will be constructed to aid in the receiving of construction materials and equipment for the Northern Bridge construction. This finger pier will allow for barge shipment deliveries to the west side of the Northern Bridge, eliminating the need for the movement of much of the massive quantities of structural steel (37M lbs), concrete (370,000 CY), reinforcing bar (19M lbs), and pipe piles (108,000 lf) over the highway and local roadways.   The width of the access structure will be approximately 28-ft to permit a crane to deliver materials from this structure. The northwest pier will project 50 feet out from the river bank to reach the barge channel and will have a mooring platform 100 feet long to allow for transloading from a barge. Permits to allow for this construction have already been acquired.  When this task is complete, this pier may satisfy the NJDEP Waterfront Access permit requirements as a permanent structure providing public access to the waterfront.

Estimated Construction Cost:  $4.7 million
Location/Properties Traversed:  New Jersey Meadowlands Commission

4)  Service Access Road (Utility Protection Structure)

This work element is a steel bridge structure on pile supported foundations at grade to support the heavy vehicle loads anticipated during construction.  The structure is required to protect the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority's (JCMUA) 36 inch diameter cast iron water pipe (c. 1860). The pipe is parallel and adjacent to Bellville Turnpike (NJ Rt. 7).  The new bridge will replace the existing span which is inadequate and will be necessary for continued access of Amtrak's facilities located on the western shore of the Hackensack River adjacent the existing Portal Bridge.

Estimated Construction Cost:  $0.73 million
Location/Properties Traversed:  Amtrak Right-of-Way (ROW)

5)  Retaining Wall E

Retaining Wall E, a 560 foot long wall, will be necessary to support the new alignment of NEC Track 3.  It is constructed utilizing a soldier pile and concrete lagging system which is a commonly used method for retaining walls.  The new wall is located just west of the Secaucus Transfer Station and north of the NEC.

Estimated Construction Cost:  $5.9 million
Location/Properties Traversed:  Amtrak ROW

USDOT received 627 eligible applications from 50 states and several U.S. territories, including Tribal governments, requesting 20 times the $500 million available for the program, or $10.1 billion for needed transportation projects.

For Release: September 15, 2016