Rail Line Gets New Life

After an unfortunate event, the Paulsboro Bridge in New Jersey constructed an efficient and effective replacement to support the rail line 

By Sergio Flores

Freight railroads have played a crucial role in America infrastructure development. With New Jersey’s proximity to major ports in Philadelphia and New York and abundant natural resources, it is an ideal place for railroad development. The industrial town of Paulsboro, situated along the banks of the Delaware River, remains a key link in Conrail’s Penns Grove Secondary line, which serves southern New Jersey.

Built in 1917, the former structure of Paulsboro Bridge, which carried the line over Mantua Creek, was a historically significant A-frame swing bridge; a structure that was once common among other rail lines in the region. In November 2012, seven freight train cars derailed at the Paulsboro Bridge over the Mantua Creek.

Bridge experts Modjeski and Masters (M&M) were called on by Conrail to assist with restoring safe operations of the railroad. According to Rich Jackson, Deputy Project Manager for M&M, the derailment damaged the overhead A-Frame and rendered swing operation impossible. M&M provided engineering assistance to Conrail to convert the former swing span to a fixed span. Conrail then asked M&M to design a more permanent solution with a new movable bridge.

Following an emergency field response and inspection, M&M worked with Conrail to reopen the formerly movable bridge as a fixed structure. This temporary fix ensured safe operation of the railroad until a more permanent movable structure could be constructed. This new structure would need to be constructed on the same alignment and with as little interruption to rail traffic as possible.



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