Portal North Bridge gets Notice to Proceed

April 8, 2022
The notice clears the way for construction to begin on the bridge project, which should take approximately 5.5 years to complete.

A Notice to Proceed has been issued for the Portal North Bridge project, which will see a new two-track fixed structure railroad bridge constructed over the Hackensack River in Hudson County, N.J., replacing a swing bridge that is 110-years old.

The bridge is used by New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak trains and is located on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The bridge has been a source of service disruptions that not only impact trains using the bridge but have cascading impacts on the NEC. The new bridge will sit 50 feet over the river, which will allow marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting rail traffic.

“From day one of my administration, we have prioritized investments in environmentally friendly mass transit. After years of crucial behind the scenes work, this notice to proceed means train customers will soon see tangible evidence of our commitment to modernizing the rail system,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “Today’s announcement is another testament to our partners in the Biden Administration, NJ Transit, the U.S. Department of Transportation, our federal delegation and Amtrak for continuing to prioritize this vital project.”

NJ Transit awarded a $1.56 billion construction contract – the largest in the agency’s history – in October 2021 to Skanska/Traylor Bros PNB Joint Venture (STJV) to construct the new bridge. With the Notice to Proceed issuance in hand, STJV will mark the start of the construction contract which is anticipated to take approximately five and a half years to complete.

“NJ Transit is proud to be advancing this project of national significance,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “This notice to proceed means that soon construction will begin – improving reliability for the millions of customers who count on this critical rail link between New Jersey and New York every year, while creating jobs and spurring economic growth for our region.”

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the project in October 2021 and the Notice to Proceed will allow heavy construction to begin. The Portal North Bridge project includes construction of retaining walls, deep foundations, concrete piers, structural steel bridge spans, rail systems, demolition of the existing bridge and related incidental works.

“Because of our shared unwavering commitment, we now celebrate the start of major construction on a new Portal North Bridge – the first of the Gateway Program projects to reach this milestone,” said Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia. “The new bridge rising over the Hackensack River will be a visible reminder to Northeast Corridor passengers that a new day is dawning for rail travel in America – safer, faster and more reliable.”

The Gateway Program, of which the Portal North Bridge project is a critical component of, will eventually double rail capacity between Newark, N.J., and New York City.

“The bridge will be a visible symbol of progress while it's being built and will bring a better passenger experience into and out of New York and greater reliability and resiliency on the busiest stretch of the Northeast Corridor," said Gateway Development Commission Co-Chairs Balpreet Grewal-Virk and Steven M. Cohen.

The project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, NJ Transit and Amtrak. A Full Funding Grant Agreement was secured in January 2021 from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program for $766.5 million. Amtrak is contributing more than $97 million to the project and more than $57 million will come from FHWA Flexible Funds. More than $811 million is being covered with local funding.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.