Coast Guard to make permanent ban on rush-hour openings of Portal Bridge

Aging New Jersey span has been a frequent headache on Northeast Corridor
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The Coast Guard is making permanent a ban on rush-hour openings of New Jersey's Portal Bridge, seen from northbound Amtrak Northeast Regional train No. 94 on Sept. 13, 2019.
Bob Johnston

SECAUCUS, N.J. — The U.S. Coast Guard has made permanent its ban on opening Amtrak’s troublesome Portal Bridge during rush hour.

A six-month trial period, banning the opening of the more-than-century-old bridge over the Hackensack River during peak periods on the Northeast Corridor, began in March. [See “Coast Guard will no longer allow rush-hour openings of key Northeast Corridor bridge,” Trains News Wire, March 18, 2019.]

NJ.com reports a rule making permanent the ban on openings between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., will be published this week. Bridge openings have been an issue because the span — used by almost 500 Amtrak and NJ Transit trains per day — occasionally fails to lock back into place when closed, stalling rail traffic. [See “Bridge failure leads to NJ Transit commuter woes,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 31, 2018.]

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