Construction on key Northeast corridor rail bridge gets OK

Construction to replace a century-old rail bridge that has been a regular source of delays on the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. has received the go-ahead to start.

New Jersey Transit announced Thursday it had issued a notice to proceed for the Portal North Bridge project, which will build a new bridge over the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey to replace a 112-year-old swing bridge that occasionally becomes stuck after opening to allow boats to pass underneath.

The bridge carries hundreds of Amtrak and commuter trains daily, and delays can affect trains up and down the northeastern U.S.

The new bridge is being built by a joint venture comprising Sweden-based Skanska and Traylor Brothers, a civil construction company based in Evansville, Indiana. Construction is expected to take between five and six years.

The federal government awarded a $766 million grant for the project last year; New Jersey Transit is contributing roughly $800 million and Amtrak about $260 million.

The bridge is part of the Gateway project, a broader effort to modernize and increase rail service in the New York metro region and which also includes a plan to build a new, $10 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River and expand New York’s Penn Station.

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