Capacity Enhancements for the Portal Bridge, A Critical Link Along the Northeast Corridor

Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project


Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project


Northern New Jersey



The Portal Bridge is a critical link along the Northeast Corridor, the busiest stretch of rail in the United States. Its timely replacement is essential to the long-term plans of Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT to increase service on the Northeast Corridor.

AKRF led a team of rail engineers, operational analysts, and moveable bridge experts in a detailed alternatives analysis to identify the most feasible and realistic alternatives. Once the list of alternatives had been narrowed, AKRF led preparation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on behalf of Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) served as the lead federal agency. Throughout the alternatives analysis and EIS, the team maintained a project-specific website and rigorous public outreach program with key interest groups, other agencies, and the general public.

Since completion of the EIS, AKRF continues to serve as lead environmental consultant to the project team during preliminary engineering, responsible for securing all environmental permits, for conducting additional environmental assessments, as necessary, and for ensuring that the mitigation and other requirements of the EIS are carried forward.

Our work for this project included:

  • Alternatives analysis, including conceptual development of alternatives and screening and evaluation to identify the most feasible and cost-effective alternatives
  • Preparation of NEPA documentation for a full range of environmental issues, including contaminated materials associated with nearby landfills, chromium waste sites, and a Superfund site; wetlands impacts because of the bridge’s location in the New Jersey Meadowlands; and historic resources because of the bridge’s status as a historic structure listed on the New Jersey State Register and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Preparation of permit applications and supporting studies for a wide range of discretionary state and federal permits including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 404 and Section 10, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Section 9, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Waterfront Development, Water Quality Certification, Flood Hazard, and Tidelands Conveyance.
  • Development of conceptual wetland mitigation strategies in support of the project’s permit applications.
  • Management of the site remediation tasks including the preparation of a corridor-wide Preliminary Site Assessment and Site Investigation Workplan covering numerous sites that are contaminated with Chromium Ore Processing Residue (COPR) and are undergoing remedial action under NJDEP Consent Orders.
  • Ongoing services related to a Memorandum of Agreement per Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act including obtaining approval from the New Jersey Historic Sites Council to remove the 100-year-old state-listed Portal Bridge and developing Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)/Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) documentation, and other mitigation measures. 
Transportation Initiatives Overview