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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

NJ leaders ask Coast Guard to limit Portal Bridge openings

The century-old Portal Bridge got stuck last week, causing headaches for thousands of commuters.
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have called on the U.S. Coast Guard to immediately stop opening of the Amtrak Portal Bridge for maritime traffic during rush hours.

The request follows a series of malfunctions last week of the 100-year-old bridge, which created "horrendous delays for tens of thousands of commuters," the governor and senators said in a press release issued by Menendez's office.

Although current regulations generally bar the bridge from being opened during morning and evening rush hours, loopholes allow maritime traffic to request opening of the bridge as long as a one-hour advance notice is given, they said.

"Given the problems posed to commuters by the frequent Portal Bridge malfunctions, we urge you to revise your regulations to eliminate these loopholes and to end the opening of the Portal Bridge during the morning and evening rush hours," they added, according to their letter to the Coast Guard.

The bridge — which crosses the Hackensack River in New Jersey— is used by hundreds of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains daily. Last week, the bridge became stuck a few times when operators couldn't close and lock it into place after opening it for maritime traffic. The event caused train service into and out of Amtrak Penn Station in New York City to be delayed, causing headaches for commuters.

Murphy, Menendez and Booker wrote that they continue to try to convince President Trump's administration to provide the federal funding needed to help rebuild the bridge.

"As we continue these efforts, we write to request that the Coast Guard work with us to explore short-term solutions to mitigate this ongoing commuter crisis," the letter stated.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/7/2018