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Geotechnical Services for Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement

Borings and soundings in the Hackensack River were performed using barrel float platforms and a jack-up barge.
  • Borings were performed from a barge on Hackensack River-Gannett Fleming

    Borings were performed from a barge on the Hackensack River.

New Jersey Transit

Joint venture with Jacobs Engineering Group and HNTB Corporation

Secaucus and Kearny, New Jersey

Our Role
Engineering, Design, Geotechnical.

Construction Cost
$1.65 billion
In Progress
In Progress
  • Embankment support alternatives
  • Multiphase subsurface investigation program
  • Preliminary foundation parameters for river crossings and other track crossings.

The Portal Bridge is a 100-year-old, two-track, moveable swing-span rail bridge spanning the Hackensack River in New Jersey between the cities of Kearny and Secaucus. Nearly 500 trains use the bridge daily.
The century-old structure is nearing the end of its economic life and has insufficient capacity to accommodate future transportation needs. In addition to heavy usage by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, the Hackensack River crossing must also be opened to allow marine traffic to pass.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming is providing geotechnical services to design the replacement of 2.5 miles of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. The existing two-track railroad will be expanded to five tracks, and elevated to allow for the replacement of the existing swing bridge with two fixed bridges, one north and one south of the existing alignment.

The multiphase subsurface investigation program included 360 test borings, wells, soundings, and in situ test locations. The subsurface investigation included cone penetrometer and dilatometer test soundings, as well as field vane shear, pressure meter, and rock borehole shear testing. Borings were performed using a combination of rigs mounted on truck, track, skid, and barrel float platforms, along with a jack-up barge for borings and soundings in the Hackensack River. The crossing approaches will be viaduct structures supported on driven-pile foundations. The new alignment requires nine retaining walls, totaling more than 8,000 linear feet.

Key Features

  • Highly compressible peat deposits
  • Compressible clay deposits up to 80 feet thick in some locations
  • Potentially liquefiable soil deposits
  • Very high axial and lateral bridge pier loads
  • Localized scour conditions in Hackensack River
  • Large expanses of wetlands and shallow lagoons
  • Construction over several highly contaminated industrial properties and two existing landfills
  • Coordination with more than 20 property owners.

Similar Projects: Geotechnical: Foundations, Geotechnical, Geotechnical: Site Evaluation, Transportation: Transit & Rail, Transit & Rail: Transit & Rail Systems