All Things Portal Bridge: Amtrak and NJT Status and Replacement Discussion

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Regardie
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by Regardie » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:09 am

If you look at the plans for the new, higher portal Bridge, you can see a service platform under the bridge in some of the drawings. There had been a barge in the river for quite some time and they have built the tiniest bit of the service platform in the river and now nothing is happening anywhere near there.

Near the Secaucus station, there are pilings being installed for something, maybe new elevated tracks, maybe retaining walls, it is hard to tell.

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R&DB
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by R&DB » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:54 am

Regardie » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:09 pm
Near the Secaucus station, there are pilings being installed for something, maybe new elevated tracks, maybe retaining walls, it is hard to tell.
If you want to build anything in a swamp, you will probably need to drive pilings down to a stable surface below the swamp. This applies to any kind of construction in those areas.

To all those regular riders at Portal, any other new construction?
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by EuroStar » Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:34 pm

NJT got an extension to complete its application for the federal money https://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2 ... nsion.html.

No matter how one reads the article, this is a six months delay in the schedule as the Feds in the current Administration are in no hurry to cure favors with NJ voters (ref: Gateway EIS). Welcome to politics as usual while your train is delayed while a crew of Amtrak employees is trying to hammer the old bridge in order to close it.

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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by EuroStar » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:22 am

As per some sources the projected 10% increase in passengers over the new bridge compared to the existing one comes from using MLV cars instead of single level coaches, not from the increased speeds. I really hope NJT did not bundle a request for more money for train cars together with the bridge as that is likely to be a point of contention and cause further paperwork delays.

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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by 35dtmrs92 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:01 am

Bundling MLVs in an infrastructure project and using them to claim a capacity increase is problematic, especially when the tunnel project's environmental documents emphasize 4 tracks NYP-SEC will not increase capacity (because they have to say that to avoid getting sued), but highway project proponents use fuzzy math all the freaking time. Holding up the bridge cash over this sort of thing would absolutely be a double standard.

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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by EuroStar » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:08 am

A new animation of the North Portal Bridge has been made available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tifnDhyzpfw. While I would not read too much into its details (the interlocking details are certainly wrong unless they intend to cripple the operations until the South Portal Bridge is built), there are some insights for the curious.
1. On the east side the divergence to the north from the current right of way occurs somewhat east of the intersection with the old Boonton line.
2. On the west side the divergence north from the old right of way will occur around SWIFT interlocking. There will be new bridges over the Newark-Jersey City Turnpike and Belleville Turnpike.
3. The "duck-under" for the Lackawanna lines can be seen at 2:04. It is just east of Belleville Turnpike. This "duck-under" will connect to the South Portal Bridge if it ever gets built.
4. The extent of the construction platforms can be seen in multiple locations. Compared to what has already been built, they have quite a lot more to go.
5. I see no specific future allowances for the Secaucus Loop, but that detail might not have made it into the animation.

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R&DB
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by R&DB » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:08 pm

EuroStar » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:08 am
I find it interesting that Amtrak and NJ Transit can find the money to have this video and the one on the Gateway tunnels produced. Seems to me the funds spent on this could have been more effectively used on actual construction.
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by ExCon90 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:56 pm

I'm not familiar with the costs of TV production, but I suspect the cost of making those videos would be lost in rounding in the overall construction budgets. The videos may have been made to impress legislators with the importance of the projects; if they succeed in getting more money they will have been well worth it.

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R&DB
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by R&DB » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:35 pm

ExCon90 wrote:
The videos may have been made to impress legislators with the importance of the projects; if they succeed in getting more money they will have been well worth it.
Good point. My guess on production costs for the 2 would be around $100 - $125k each.
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by gokeefe » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:02 pm

You're both wrong. This is likely derived from the CAD engineering design currently in progress. The software has a built in capability to record video and the ability to manipulate perspective. Services like this are routinely included as part of an engineering and design contract or could likely be done in house.
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R&DB
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by R&DB » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:38 am

Mr Gokeefe wrote:
The software has a built in capability to record video and the ability to manipulate perspective.
I'm familiar with the CAD capabilities, that's the low-cost part of the productions. The expensive parts are the on-location interviews and editing hours.
Services like this are routinely included as part of an engineering and design contract or could likely be done in house.
I've worked in both the engineering and entertainment industries and am somewhat familiar with both. Those 'in-house' services still cost money. (time is money) The animation was produced by HNTB. From Wiki: "HNTB Corporation is an architecture, civil engineering consulting and construction management firm that was founded in 1914." So the animation was produced 'in-house' but believe me, HNTB definitely charged for it!
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by gokeefe » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:38 pm

By "in-house" I meant Amtrak's own PR/Media. I've met them. They are more than capable of something like this. Regardless this video is indeed very helpful.
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R&DB
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by R&DB » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:46 am

Regardless this video is indeed very helpful.
If it gets more $ from Congress for Gateway, yes I agree completely. It would be a good return on investment.
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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by EuroStar » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:58 am

July's Board Meeting minutes of NJT make an interesting read when it comes to the Portal Bridge due to the insights of the public comments. While I believe that the majority of the comments are fighting yesterday's battles by arguing for a three track North Portal Bridge, here are some of the interesting bits mixed up with my take on them.

The FTA grants that NJT is applying for require projects to provide at least 10% capacity increase. Anything below 10% is not eligible for the grants. Given that the proposed North Portal Bridge is only two tracks, the same as the old one there are limited avenues to increase capacity. One is to increase the speed of the trains and therefore the throughput, but they cannot really do this because they cannot push more trains through the tunnels. So NJT came up with the trick of increasing capacity by bundling into the bridge project an order for more multilevel cars which are to replace the remaining single level trains. Given that multilevel cars can and do run on the existing bridge, this strikes me as likely to be against the spirit of the FTA grant requirements, if not against the legal verbiage that spells those requirements. The connection between the new cars which provide the required 10% capacity increase and the bridge is tangential. Apart form that some comments indicate that the way NJT calculated the 10% capacity increase might be flawed because some of the increase already occurred when NJT replaced single level cars with multilevel ones in the past. To me all this when coupled with the current Administration's adverse view of anything and everything New York/New Jersey makes it likely that come January 2019 the likely outcome will be rejection of NJT's application for federal money.

I am no expert on federal grants, but the 10% increase in capacity requirement seems really tough to do for the Portal Bridge by itself because no more trains can be run into the tunnels. A three track North Portal Bridge, both the North and the South together or the new North and the existing one would not provide the capacity increase in spite of the increased number of tracks because of the tunnels. These options could have worked if the bridge was the limiting factor in the capacity, but the bridge really is a reliability problem, not a capacity problem.

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Re: NEC Portal Bridge Thread - Operation, Replacement Etc.

Post by electricron » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:10 am

EuroStar wrote: The FTA grants that NJT is applying for require projects to provide at least 10% capacity increase. Anything below 10% is not eligible for the grants. Given that the proposed North Portal Bridge is only two tracks, the same as the old one there are limited avenues to increase capacity. One is to increase the speed of the trains and therefore the throughput, but they cannot really do this because they cannot push more trains through the tunnels. So NJT came up with the trick of increasing capacity by bundling into the bridge project an order for more multilevel cars which are to replace the remaining single level trains. Given that multilevel cars can and do run on the existing bridge, this strikes me as likely to be against the spirit of the FTA grant requirements, if not against the legal verbiage that spells those requirements.
Worse yet, they'll cry to high heaven when the FTA sees through this and declines to fund this project with this program. They'll take up political name calling politics instead of looking at themselves getting caught trying to pull a fast one. What's so wrong applying for funding that actually matches your project?

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