SOUTH AMBOY – A replacement for the aging Raritan River Drawbridge has cleared the federal environmental assessment process.
The milestone marks a significant development in NJ Transit’s effort to make its infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather following the devastating impacts of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
On Oct. 13, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for NJ Transit’s Raritan River Bridge Replacement project (River Draw) as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, according to information provided by NJ Transit. The FONSI was issued after it was determined the project has no significant effect on the environment.
Final design will start this month and is scheduled to be at 100 percent design by the end of 2018, officials said.
“This project represents the kind of investments we are making in critical infrastructure that will help keep New Jersey both competitive and on the move,” Richard Hammer, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and chairman of NJ Transit, said in the statement.
“Replacing River Draw will allow NJ Transit to continue to move customers to critical job centers and Shore communities for years to come, without prolonged service disruptions related to severe weather events” NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro said in the statement.
The Raritan River Bridge Replacement Project will replace the existing swing bridge that carries NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) trains over the Raritan River between Perth Amboy and South Amboy.
Built in 1907, River Draw is the sole rail link for 17 of the 20 stations on the NJCL to the major job centers of Newark, Jersey City and Manhattan. It carries almost 10,000 daily NJ Transit customers and moves 2 million tons of freight annually via Conrail, according to the statement.
The new bridge will be on an alignment adjacent to the existing bridge, which suffered damage during Superstorm Sandy. Taking advantage of structural design approaches and materials that are able to withstand ocean surge forces and saltwater immersion, the new lift bridge will be significantly less vulnerable to severe weather events, according to the statement. To achieve this, the new bridge will utilize reinforced concrete piers, new steel superstructure, new drive motor and electrical controls, tie-ins to existing track, vertical adjustment of existing track and electrical catenary relocation.
The Raritan River Bridge Replacement Project will advance as a result of a $446 million grant awarded by the FTA through its Emergency Relief Program for resilience projects in response to Superstorm Sandy, according to the statement.