Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement

Railroad infrastructure upgrade will accommodate increasing demand

A regular cause of delays on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, the 100+ year-old Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey is in dire need of upgrading to accommodate increasing demand in the region.

The embodiment of aging railroad infrastructure, it is the source of frequent delays. The bridge swings open to allow vessels to pass underneath several times a week. Often the bridge fails to close completely, causing significant delays.

The new bridge will be non-movable and 50 feet above mean high water, or about double the current height, eliminating the need for openings. It also would enable trains to cross at 90 mph instead of the current 60 mph.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming led the final engineering efforts for this critical project including project management, scheduling, operational simulation analyses, quality control, geotechnical design and trackwork, retaining walls, signals, traction power, and operational control center design.

Key Features

  • Accelerated environmental impact statement (EIS) effort with detailed coordination among multiple project stakeholders.
  • Design of 29 bridges with 124 spans and all related civil, track, signal, catenary, and electric traction substation design work.
  • New river crossings design consisting of two, three-span, network tied arch bridges to provide 50 foot clearance over the river.
  • New duck-under structure designed to enable westbound NJ Transit trains leaving New York City to pass under the Northeast Corridor.
  • Five new interlockings.
  • Seven modified control centers for both signal and traction power control.
  • Developed detailed construction staging plans to ensure minimal impact to operations during construction.
More Project Details

Reconfigure 2.5 miles of the Northeast Corridor and associated interlockings between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City.

Replace an existing swing bridge with two fixed bridges over the Hackensack River.

Improve service throughout the Northeast Corridor.