Rail

FTA announces NEC Portal Bridge Project Record of Decision

Posted on August 7, 2017

Delays due to bridge failures, maintenance and reduced operational speeds have made replacement of the bridge critical to maintaining and improving passenger rail service into Manhattan.
Photo courtesy Amtrak
Delays due to bridge failures, maintenance and reduced operational speeds have made replacement of the bridge critical to maintaining and improving passenger rail service into Manhattan.
Photo courtesy Amtrak

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that formally adopts the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Portal Bridge Project. The project is seeking to replace a century-old swing bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey with a high-level, fixed bridge.

The project is currently in the Project Development phase of the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program. The project’s partners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, and Amtrak, are seeking $811 million in CIG funding toward the $1.64 billion total cost. This ROD is a part of the environmental review process required by law for projects seeking federal funding through the CIG Program. Additional steps must be completed according to legal criteria before the FTA can make a determination about CIG funding for the project.

Project Description: The Portal Bridge is a two-track movable swing span railroad bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus in Hudson County and was constructed more than a century ago. The bridge, owned by Amtrak, is a critical link on the Northeast Corridor. Delays due to bridge failures, maintenance and reduced operational speeds have made replacement of the bridge critical to maintaining and improving passenger rail service into Manhattan. The purpose of the Project is to replace the 100-year old Portal Bridge and eliminate capacity constraints on the Northeast Corridor between Swift Interlocking and the Secaucus Transfer Station.

Last month, the U.S. DOT released the Draft EIS for the Hudson Tunnel Project, completing the review in 14 months from the Federal Register Notice of Initiation. The Final EIS is expected to be issued in March 2018, approximately 22 months after initiation as compared to reviews of this magnitude which have taken more than 40 months to complete, demonstrating the department’s commitment to streamline the project review process.

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