Commuters on New Jersey Transit often worry and complain about crossing the river to and from Manhattan, but the mighty Hudson is often wrongly accused as the wager of our woe.
It’s the Hackensack River that we should worry about.
As we waited to board our 7:10 Midtown Direct in New Providence this morning, a NJT Alert beeped into our Blackberry, iPhone, and other Smartphone devices. “NEC, NJCL and MTD trains in/out of NYPS are subject to 20-30 min. delays, due to earlier Portal Bridge opening,” it warned.
Much like the mysterious device in the new Fox dino-drama Terra Nova, this little Portal Bridge is our very own time-bending wormhole. Crossing the Hackensack River in Kearny, just south of the New Jersey Turnpike, most NJ Transit trains must funnel through this pinch-point as they speed toward the city. This swing/turntable bridge opened in 1910, and is operated by Amtrak.
Plans are in place to replace the Portal Bridge with two new bridges by 2017.*
Trading text messages with a buddy further east on the earlier train this morning, he warned that he was stuck there in the swamps of Jersey, teasingly within view of the Manhattan skyline. It’s here that we are usually informed that our NY Penn Station trains will be re-routed to Hoboken, and the ochre gloom of the NJ PATH train awaits us.
Some luck shined down this morning though. No sad announcement for our train, and no morphing back in time at the Portal Bridge occurred. We sped across the Meadowlands and arrived on time in Penn Station, ready to step outside and breath.
* The “Chris Christie Portal Bridge to 2016,” name pending