List Your Equipment  /  Dealer Login

President Biden on Hand at Kickoff of N.J.'s North Portal Bridge Project

Thu October 28, 2021 - Northeast Edition
Hudson Reporter

The new bridge will replace the current 110-year-old Portal Bridge, a railroad crossing structure over the Hackensack River from Kearny to Secaucus that spans 2.44 mi. of the Northeast Corridor.
The new bridge will replace the current 110-year-old Portal Bridge, a railroad crossing structure over the Hackensack River from Kearny to Secaucus that spans 2.44 mi. of the Northeast Corridor.

President Joe Biden officially kicked off the construction of the Portal North Bridge in Kearny, N.J., on Oct. 25 by addressing officials and the press at the NJ Transit Maintenance Complex.

The new bridge will replace the current 110-year-old Portal Bridge, a railroad crossing structure over the Hackensack River from Kearny to Secaucus that spans 2.44 mi. of the Northeast Corridor.

The President also took the opportunity to tout his massive $550 billion infrastructure bill and urge Congressional leaders to reach a bipartisan agreement.

Biden's appearance comes after officials secured funding for the Portal Bridge project earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Transportation, NJ Transit and Amtrak.

Last winter, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the signing of a Full Funding Grant Agreement which secured $766.5 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding to support the bridge's construction, the Hudson Reporter noted. Earlier in October, NJ Transit signed a $1.599 billion contract with Skanska/Traylor Bros Joint Venture for the construction of the bridge, work that is anticipated to take five and a half years.

The new bridge is one component of the larger Gateway Program, which aims to double rail capacity between Newark and New York. Another proposed project in Hudson County, N.J., is the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

Years in the Making

Prior to the President's remarks, several state representatives who have been lobbying for the project spoke, including Gov. Murphy.

"We are ready to move forward on the much needed and long-awaited replacement of the outdated Portal Bridge," Murphy said. "When it works, the Northeast Corridor fully functions. When it doesn't, the Northeast Corridor, the people it carries, and all the economic activity it supports, comes to a screeching halt. Over the recent past, that's happened more often. Now, it is time for us to give our region the modern, safe, and reliable infrastructure that a 21st century economy demands. And that's exactly what the entirety of the Gateway Program will do."

According to the Hudson Reporter, Murphy expressed his gratitude to the President and his team for their support, along with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and department. In addition, the governor thanked the New Jersey congressional delegation, legislative partners, and "all who have given not just to the Portal North Bridge project but [to] the even bigger one waiting for us just up the tracks, the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson."

Biden Sees Better Bridges Being Built

In his 20-minute speech at the event, Biden not only addressed the new bridge, but his infrastructure bill currently tied up in Congress.

"The infrastructure bill is about rebuilding the arteries of America," Biden said. "And the Portal Bridge project shows why investments like this are so important. When the Portal Bridge was [originally] built, it was state of the art. It really was 110 years ago. Today it's been called something different: a choke point, a bottleneck, an Achilles' heel of the Northeast Corridor. Since the Portal Bridge was built, it has become the busiest rail span in the entire Western Hemisphere."

Biden noted that at peak usage, more than 450 trains pass over the bridge every day carrying more than 200,000 Amtrak and NJ Transit passengers.

"But ships and barges also need to get under it, and many can't fit," the President added. "That means the bridge needs to swing open and close again, a process that stops rail traffic and causes other problems. The bridge opens over a hundred times a year, and 15 percent of the time something goes wrong. For example, if the rails don't lock back in place exactly right, the bridge closes. And sometimes, you know what fixes it? In the 21st Century, a sledgehammer... they come out with a sledgehammer and align the tracks."

Biden cited a report from a few years ago that found the bridge responsible for approximately 2,000 hours of delays between 2014 and 2018. He said that aging infrastructure is "not just a nuisance, but an impediment to America's global competitiveness" in the worldwide race toward advanced infrastructure.

"We're moving forward on a new bridge that will be higher over the water, so it won't need to open and close," Biden said. "It will allow us to increase speed, safety, efficiency, and capacity. It's going to make life a lot better for New Jersey's commuters."

More Union Jobs, Greener Travel Ahead

According to the Hudson Reporter, the President added that the Portal Bridge project would create upwards of 8,000 construction jobs in Hudson County alone – union jobs that will pay a decent wage.

"It's [also] about to make rail transportation, which is the cleaner, greener way to travel, the better choice for New Jersey residents," Biden explained. "But not just New Jersey, everyone up and down the East Coast.

Biden characterized himself as a "train guy," having frequently traveled on Amtrak trains from Washington, D.C., to his home state of Delaware and back throughout his career. He touted rail as a cleaner way to travel, calling it "a single best way to deal with global warming."

"During peak periods when railroads are congested and rail carries more passengers, rail is up to ten times more energy efficient than a person driving. We have a huge opportunity here to provide reliable, fast, safe and clean transportation in this country."

Once his infrastructure legislation in place, the President said that projects like the Portal Bridge will be more common.

"Across the country, there are 45,000 bridges in disrepair, some of them dangerously so; 173,000 miles of roads are in poor condition. We're going to fix them. These are going to be good union jobs, [with a] prevailing wage you can raise a family on, jobs that can't be outsourced."

Biden explained that his proposed legislation would invest an unprecedented amount of money into the nation's infrastructure including bridges and roads.

"We're going to make the largest investment in public transportation in the history of America that replaces transit vehicles past their useful life and make the most significant investment in rail since the creation of Amtrak fifty years ago," he noted.

Today's top stories

Construction Industry Embracing, Adopting AI Technology at Record Clip

Swift Action Reopens I-10 in Los Angeles After Fire

Hawk Falls Bridge Replacement Proceeds in Pennsylvania

Allen Butler, Webber Lead 'Top Priority' Amarillo Job

VIDEO: Autonomous Excavator Constructs a Dry-Stone Wall

JLG Opens Las Vegas Service Center

Rehabilitation of Quechee Gorge Bridge Under Way in Hartford, Vt.

Caterpillar 6020B Shovel Goes to Work in Coal Country


aggregateequipmentguide-logo agriculturalequipmentguide-logo craneequipmentguide-logo forestryequipmentguide-logo truckandtrailerguide-logo
39.04690 \\ -77.49030 \\ Ashburn \\ PA