Environmental Impact Statement
The FRA and New Jersey Transit (NJT) jointly prepared an EIS, in cooperation with Amtrak, US Coast Guard, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Transit Administration, to study improvements to enhance capacity and operation of the Amtrak-owned Portal Bridge that spans the Hackensack River. Originally constructed in 1910, the bridge is nearing the end of its projected lifespan. The Portal Bridge plays a critical role in the successful operation of the Northeast Corridor.
The scoping period ran through January 31, 2007. The Draft EIS was released and the comment period extended until March 31, 2008.
The Final EIS was issued on October 1, 2008. The Final EIS contains an evaluation of the environmental, social and economic impacts of four proposed alternatives for replacing the nearly 100-year old two-track bridge and a “no action” option. The Final EIS identified the preferred alternative, which includes a three-track fixed northern bridge and a two-track movable southern bridge, both on new alignments. Should the project be built, the addition of extra tracks is expected to increase capacity, improve service, and increase operational flexibility. A Record of Decision (ROD) was issued on December 23, 2008.
Since the ROD, the design has progressed. NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak have completed preliminary and final engineering and secured multiple environmental permits. As the design process evolved, several aspects of the design were modified and improved. These design changes were analyzed for environmental implications in a re-examination that FRA completed in 2016. The re-examination concluded that the final design for the Preferred Alternative (as compared to the 2008 FEIS) would not result in any new significant adverse environmental effects, would not exacerbate any adverse effects disclosed in the 2008 FEIS, and would not increase the need for mitigation measures discussed in the 2008 FEIS and ROD. The re-examination also discusses any relevant changes in circumstances and environmental conditions since the 2008 ROD. The FRA concluded that there were no new circumstances or environmental conditions that would change the conclusions of the FEIS or ROD.