Work coming along to replace more-than-a-century-old North Portal Bridge for Amtrak, NJ Transit riders heading to Penn Station

Working coming along to replace North Portal Bridge for NJ commuters

NEW YORK -- Amtrak and New Jersey Transit riders know all too well the delays that frequently take place at Penn Station.

"I'm late for where I'm supposed to go," said one NJ Transit rider. 

"Another long delay again, so we are hoping they will improve the service," said another rider.

CBS New York spoke with commuters in May when the aging North Portal Bridge in Kearny, New Jersey experienced mechanical issues -- one of many of the recent problems impacting service at Penn Station.

According to the Gateway Program, the "aging mechanical & electrical components sometimes malfunction while opening and closing, causing a cascade of delays."

As you ride on an Amtrak or NJ Transit train into Penn, commuters can see the construction currently being done to replace the more-than-century-old bridge over the Hackensack River. The bridge has always had to swing open when a boat that couldn't fit underneath would need to pass. Once this project is complete, Amtrak says a two-track bridge will replace this outdated relic with a modern high-level fixed span.

"The progress on Portal North Bridge has just been incredible, reaching 25 percent completion since construction began just over a year ago," said Mehmet Oztekin, Senior Construction Program Manager for NJ Transit.

The new bridge will also permit high track speeds and increased capacity according to officials. This will result in more on-time service to and from work and millions of dollars in maintenance cost savings.

"In the daytime, we do anything outside of the 25-foot area. Stay away from trains, stay away from live movement, stay away from energized wires," said Leonard Patton, Senior Construction Manager of Amtrak.

Transit officials say the project remains on schedule and on budget, with a target completion date expected in late 2027.

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