• All Things Portal Bridge: Amtrak and NJT Status and Replacement Discussion

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by Mark Schweber
There is a thread on this in the Amtrak forum however what is being discussed there is primarily related to Amtrak's equipment plans.

However there is quite a bit in the plan relating to capital spending on the NEC. What struck me most was under the section for bridge replacment one of the project discussed was replacement of the portal bridge with a 4 track high level bridge. No time frame was listed and in fact by 2009, the end of the 5 year period covered, they only expected to be in the environmental review and design stage. So don't hold your breath but interesting non the less. By the way, it is listed as NJT contributing to the funding of the project.

You might be interested in taking a look at it. It is fairly lengthy and takes a while to open (in PDF). The stuff relating to NEC improvements is in the pages in the 20's.

Last edited by Jeff Smith on Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by Jtgshu
If another tunnel is to be built into NYP, Portal would HAVE to be replaced, because if not, it would simply be moving the bottleneck from teh tunnels to the bridge. I was obvserving the NEC ROW the other day, and it really wouldn't be that hard to quadruple track from NWK penn to the tunnels, minus Portal bridge.

The ROW through Harrison would not be a major problem, as the westbound Path track would simply need to be rebuilt on the outside of teh catenary poles on the Harrison curve. Teh current Path track is actually wired there. This is only probably a 1/4 mile, if that, of Path that would need to be built, as there already is a bridge in place in the Harrison station area for a 4th track, but its not used. The current Path westboudn track on teh curve would then become the NEC 4th track, and two new main tracks would be built through Hudson yard, no big deal. Then two tracks would need to be built from Hudoson interlocking to Portal, this would be the most major work, because Swift interlocking would need to be reworked and 5 and 6 track would need to be swung out to leave room for the new tracks. The ROW on iether side of Portal Bridge would need to be rebuilt anyway if it is giogn to be a fixed bridge, as there is still much marine traffic thorugh there. From Portal to Allied, there already is 3 and 4 tracks, and the 3 track section would just be made into 4. From Allied to the portal of the tunnel would be hte other major section, as this would have to be a completely new ROW, to the New tunnels, but it isn't THAT great of a distance.

Sure a lot of work would need be done, and it would cost $$$$$$$ but I don't think it would be THAT bad, and could be done in a relatively quick amount of time, and NEEDS to be done if the new tunnels are to be built.

  by F40
Referring to the PATH track being wired, why is it so? The wire ends when the PATH (NWK bound track) is alongside the HOB 25 kv trackage, relentlessly torn apart with only the structures to remain.

Also there is ripped up catenary near JSQ, one wiring for each PATH track.

Did PATH use to run on catenary? Or were those tracks used by someone else. PATH is a RR but I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

  by Irish Chieftain
The PATH wires don't have to do with the NEC improvements that Amtrak wishes to institute (unless Amtrak is intending to rebuild Exchange Place Terminal suddenly...?)

Anyway, the catenary wires date back to when the Pennsylvania RR still ran trains to the now-long-gone Exchange Place Terminal.

  by Nasadowsk
The use of regular PRR passenger and frieght trains over that stretch of trackage is what prompted the FEDs to make PATH an FRA operation. The connections don't exist anymore, though, and the wires are probbably off at this point.

I believe the former H&M system had cab signals through here at one time. Also, the older K series cars were split ordered between the H&M and the PRR - some had PRR Keystones on them.
  by Mark Schweber
Anyone know why Portal Bridge was open this morning at about 7:15AM and backing up rush hour trains? I though it is not supposed to be opened during rush hour but announcements were made on the train that we were waiting for Portal Bridge to close.

The only good thing was that once we got going from the end of the Midtown Direct connect to just before the tunnel we got to go at what seemed a higher than normal speed. Too bad we can't go that fast every day.

  by ajt
The hours the Coast Guard approved for restricting marine traffic through Portal are 720am-920am, and 430pm-650pm.

  by sullivan1985
So did whatever was moving on the river (unless it was just some kind of test or something) also make Upper Hack and HX lift up too?

  by TAMR213
It could of just been stuck (again).

  by Ken W2KB
The restictions do not apply to vessels owned by the government or to vessels with an emergency of some sort, so those could be reasons as well.
  by railtrailbiker

Amtrak, U.S. Coast Guard agree to Portal Bridge restriction
December 15, 2004

NEWARK, NJ — In response to a joint request by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, the U.S. Coast Guard has agreed to a second 90-day period of limited rush hour openings of the Portal Draw Bridge. The agreement comes at an important time for travelers and shippers as river traffic peaks during the winter months.

The Portal Draw Bridge spans the Hackensack River about six miles west of New York Penn Station on the Northeast Corridor, providing a critical link between New Jersey and New York City. On a typical weekday, the bridge supports 136,000 NJ TRANSIT customer trips on MidTOWN DIRECT, Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains. Amtrak trains provide an additional 19,000 trips over the bridge each day.

The U.S. Coast Guard first tested limited Portal Bridge openings with great success last March, thanks to the support of Amtrak, the U.S. Coast Guard and shippers such as Amerada Hess, the Bergen County Utility Authority, Hornbeck Offshore and Moran Towing.

During the first 90-day test period, the number of bridge openings decreased from 13 to one, or 92 percent, and the length of train delays decreased from 20 ¼ hours to 54 minutes, or 96 percent, compared to the same period in 2003.

“Limiting the number of bridge openings improves our performance and reduces delays that to our customers,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. “On a typical weekday, 230 NJ TRANSIT trains cross the bridge during peak periods when nearly 70 percent of our customers travel.”

On December 13, 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard initiated the second 90-day test to reduce the number of bridge openings between the weekday peak hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Under current federal regulations, the bridge is not opened on weekdays between the hours of 7:20 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. and between 4:30 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. During the extended hours of the test, bridge openings will be limited to commercial vessels that face tidal conditions or other conditions affecting safety.

Coast Guard Solicits Feedback

The U.S. Coast Guard may decide to permanently limit bridge openings during peak periods if the results and public feedback are favorable during the second test.

Customers may contact the U.S. Coast Guard prior to April 12, 2005 to submit comments at the following address: Commander (obr), First Coast Guard, District Bridge Branch, One South Street, Battery Park Building, New York, N.Y. 10004.

Comments must include your name, address, identifying docket number CGD01-04-144 and a reason for each comment. Comments must be submitted on 8 ½-by-11-inch paper and able to be photocopied.

Copies of comments submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard may also be mailed to: NJ TRANSIT Customer Service, c/o Bridge Comments, One Penn Plaza East, Newark, NJ 07105.

The full regulation can be found on page 68079 of the Federal Register/ Vol. 69, No. 225/ November 23, 2004, by visiting the U.S. Government Printing Office website at www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html. Enter Regulation 33 CFR 117.723(c) in the search box and click “submit.”
http://www.njtransit.com/nn_press_relea ... SE_ID=1569

  by Idiot Railfan
Did that mean 13 openings per day cut down to 1 per day? The release wasn't quite clear (or I need to adjust my glasses)

In 16 years of commuting and another 15 or so railfanning, I can only remember DB drawbridge, a quarter mile north, delaying my train no more than 5-6 times.

  by Jtgshu
In reading that article, I think it means that there was only 1 opening during that new expanded "restricted time" delaying only one group of trains, and not 20 hours worth of trains.

The bridge can still be opened during the restricted times for vessels that need it to be opened and have to pass through then, i.e. tide.

But the openings have seemingly been better coordinated even during "off peak" hours, and I haven't gotten stopped there in a while, whereas before it was almost once a week.
  by Lackawanna484
The Star Ledger has an article today about new details from the May fire. It appears that Amtrak did not properly test the circuit breaker installed to shut off power in the event of a downed or damaged power line. A new breaker was installed a month earlier, and the testing didn't determine the incorrect installation.

NJT, which pays a significant cost of maintaining the infrastructure, is concerned. Had the breaker been installed correctly, and tested properly, the probability of a serious fire would have been minimal.

In reading through the article, I found it useful to line up the Amtrak response, the union criticism, and the NJT comment. I wouldn't be surprised to see NJT demand an independent analysis of Amtrak's inspection and maintenance programs. The Feds have already tightened the rules, says the paper.

It doesn't fill me with comfort that the safety systems in the North River tunnel are top notch, either.


  by DutchRailnut
NJT and safety concerns ?? why they never incorrectly install or ommit parts ??
do axle ground carbon brushes ring a bell ???
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