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Riverkeeper Bill Schultz speaks with representatives of NJ Transit Raritan River Resilience Program. Cornucopia Cruise Line Owner Mustafa Kilic listens from the back. *Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

Riverkeeper Bill Schultz speaks with representatives of NJ Transit Raritan River Resilience Program. Cornucopia Cruise Line Owner Mustafa Kilic listens from the back. *Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

Raritan River Bridge Replacement Project Public Meeting Olive Street Community Center 9/20/16

By: Katherine Massopust

The Raritan River Bridge between South Amboy and Perth Amboy *Bridge Photos courtesy of NJ Transit

The Raritan River Bridge between South Amboy and Perth Amboy
*Bridge Photos courtesy of NJ Transit

PERTH AMBOY – On Tuesday, September 20, 2016 there was a public meeting at the Olive Street Community Center regarding the Raritan River Bridge which presently carries over 19,200 commuters daily via the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Railroad Line along with moving over 2 million tons of freight via Conrail annually.

The presentation was made by R.J. Palladino, NJ Transit Senior Program Manager. He explained the need for this project. “The North Jersey Coast is the third busiest line in New Jersey. It’s important to keep operational and needs major work.”

The Raritan River Bridge is over 100 years old. The need for a new bridge became necessary after the Raritan River Bridge was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Although the damage was repaired in order to bring the bridge to safe working order, the trains must still operate at reduced speeds when traversing the bridge. Additional reconstruction was deemed necessary for long term use of the bridge. It was determined that a new bridge was necessary to be able to operate at optimum speeds, be more resilient to storm damage and at the same time increase maritime travel capacity. “We are looking for a long term fix. This will provide adequate service for our train commuters and maritime customers. We are looking to do it in a way that minimizes interference and be implemented in a suitable time frame. Looking at storms (like Sandy) we needed a replacement bridge,” Palladino stated.

In 2014, post Sandy grants from the Federal Transit Association were available. These grants are geared to provide funding for repairing the infrastructure of the railroad destroyed or damaged by Sandy. NJ Transit applied for and received a Competitive Resiliency Grant from the Federal Government. This new bridge will be paid for by money from this grant.

A Vertical Lift Bridge which will be similar to the one built between South Amboy and Perth Amboy. Bridge

A Vertical Lift Bridge which will be similar to the one built between South Amboy and Perth Amboy. Bridge

Presently, the Raritan River Bridge is a swing bridge. It was recommended that the newly proposed bridge will be a Vertical Lift Bridge. (See photos). The proposed vertical lift bridge will be 46 feet high when closed and 110 feet high when open. “This replacement bridge will be constructed alongside the existing which will minimize the impact of the train and maritime vessels. It will be much more resilient to storm damage,” stated Palladino.

R.J. Palladino, NJ Transit Senior Program Manager

R.J. Palladino, NJ Transit Senior Program Manager

Because of the age of the bridge, NJ Transit is working with the State NJ Historical Preservation Office. They are also preparing an EA (Environmental Assessment) in accordance with the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act regarding the environmental work involved in constructing the bridge. The plan is for construction to be completed in 7 years.

The Amboy Guardian asked NJ Transit Representative Eddie Bonco why the Perth Amboy Train Station is still not handicapped accessible. Bonco stated that there are plans to renovate the Perth Amboy Train Station and that he was the project manager on this matter. Bonco replied, “The Perth Amboy Train Station will be handicapped equipped (in the near future). There will be a high level platform and 4 elevators. “The project is presently at 30% (Planning Stage) and hopefully will begin building the platform in the summer of 2017. Everything is going to be fixed and brought up to code,” Bonco stated.

To get involved or offer comments about the Raritan River Bridge Replacement Project email NJ Transit at Riverdraw@njtransitreslienceprogram.com. Public meeting notifications and the latest updates will be listed on the News section of www.njtransitresilienceprogram.com

 

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