Purpose and Need
Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Portal Bridge began operation in 1910 with direct service between Newark Pennsylvania Station and the newly constructed Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Today, four of NJ TRANSIT's rail lines (393 trains each weekday in both directions) utilize the Portal Bridge. Amtrak operates 103 scheduled trains in both directions over this segment of the Northeast Corridor (see Scoping Document).
The century-old swing span structure has insufficient capacity to accommodate future transportation needs. In addition to heavy usage by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, the Hackensack River crossing must also allow most marine traffic to pass.
The problems that arise with the moveable existing bridge are:
The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) projects the population of northern New Jersey will grow more than 16 percent by 2025, to 7.6 million people. Both NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak require a modernized structure that will support capacity for current service and enable the agencies to meet future transportation demands.
The goals of the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project are: