Amtrak OIG recommends improved oversight of Portal North Bridge project

Amtrak OIG recommends improved oversight of Portal North Bridge project Image credit: Amtrak

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report stating that Amtrak has opportunities to improve its support of NJ Transit, lead sponsor of the Portal North Bridge project, to better oversee its own interests and reduce risks to the project.

The Portal North Bridge Project is part of the $40 billion Gateway Program that calls for upgrading and replacing rail infrastructure between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. As of January 2024, the project was on budget and on schedule. 

Amtrak is responsible for contributing about $495 million to the $2.4 billion project, along with a portion of any cost overruns. Amtrak will ultimately own the bridge. Accordingly, the railroad has a significant role in supporting NJ Transit in the bridge’s construction and has a vested interest in ensuring the project meets its requirements.

In its report, the OIG found that Amtrak, in its supporting role, has opportunities to improve its processes and reduce risk to the project. Specifically, Amtrak did not anticipate demand for track outages and labor, had differing expectations for information sharing with NJ Transit, and did not initially staff its project team to effectively manage its work on the project.

The OIG recommended improvements to Amtrak's process for identifying outage, labor and information needs at the outset of future projects. Additionally, it recommended that Amtrak assess and address where information-sharing expectations may continue to vary with NJ Transit. Going forward, lessons learned from Portal North Bridge can also contribute insights to Amtrak’s multibillion-dollar portfolio of capital improvements.

Source: Amtrak