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NJ Rail Bridge, Slated for Demo, Collapses

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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A 405-foot-long New York, Susquehanna and Western railroad bridge, located in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, partially collapsed as a train was crossing it late last week; though slated for replacement, the structure had been inspected just a few weeks earlier.

The collapse toppled a section of the bridge into Overpeck Creek, damaging one railcar that was carrying sugar and lost a wheelset. There were no injuries and no material spillage, according to police and railroad officials.

Bridge Collapse

According to USA Today, crews pulled the car back up from the failed bridge section and propped it up on the Bergen Turnpike crossing. An adjacent CSX bridge did not appear to be damaged in light of the incident. Train traffic on that span continued to run.

Susquehanna spokesperson Melanie Boyer noted that the bridge had last been inspected on June 27, with the replacement work slated to begin Monday (July 30). Taxpayers will be covering $4.3 million of the cost for the new bridge, and Susquehanna will pay $1.8 million. The 100-year-old bridge carried 25,000 railcars a year; it was last rehabilitated in 1985.

Infrastructure Concerns

The collapse of the Overpeck Creek bridge comes amid a larger discussion of the condition of railroad bridges in New Jersey, with work on 165 transportation projects statewide having been deferred in 2016 due to the budget impasse between former Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers.

New Jersey's freight and commuter railroad agencies have remained reluctant to share information regarding bridge conditions due to security concerns. Local publications are currently locked in the appeals process trying to gain access to bridge inspection reports for the state's rail spans.

Bridge Details

The Overpeck Creek bridge is an important connection for the transportation of goods between New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The bridge's imminent replacement was announced two years ago amid the debate over how to raise cash for the state's nearly depleted state Transportation Trust Fund. The subsequent impasse was resolved with the proposal of a 23-cent increase in the gas tax to fund addressing the state’s aging infrastructure.

Much of the bridge’s metal surface is corroded, and many of the wooden structures are also in poor shape. Even though the bridge is privately owned, the state of New Jersey helps finance improvements in order to support reliable freight transportation for the region.

Susquehanna operates 400 miles of track in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Government; Health & Safety; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Rail

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (7/31/2018, 8:48 AM)

Chris was reluctant to raise the fuel tax until re-election was no longer an issue. NJ serves as a window of things to come for the rest of the nation.

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