The Dock Bridge is a pair of vertical lift structures that carries Amtrak and PATH passenger trains over the Passaic River in Newark, New Jersey.
The Dock Bridge, a three-track vertical lift structure, was designed by Waddell & Hardesty based upon the patent by Dr. J.A.L. Waddell, and built by the Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a $42 million passenger transportation project that included the construction of Newark’s Pennsylvania Station and was dedicated on March 24, 1935. 2 4 At the time it was built, it was the longest three-track lift crossing in the world with a main span of 230 feet.
Waddell was one of the first to patent a simplified and improved design of the vertical lift bridge, which only came into being in the late 19th century. 2 It was an improvement of swing span crossings which had significant drawbacks as they were slow to open and close, and pilots with wide barges had difficulty navigating between the mid-channel pivot and river piers. 1 Additionally, swing bridges were often built just a few feet above mean high water which required that the crossing be opened for all but the smallest of vessels.
Two additional spans, with two tracks on one and a third on the other, opened in 1937 for the Hudson & Manhattan Railway (H&M) and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) which operated a joint passenger service operation between Newark and Manhattan. 1 The H&M shifted its rapid transit trains from the Centre Street Bridge to the newly built crossing, and the PRR closed its Manhattan Transfer Station in the Kearny meadows where the stream and electric trains were changed, and where passengers could transfer to trains to New York’s Penn Station on the PRR or to the Hudson Terminal on the H&M. 3
The H&M went into receivership in 1954 and the PRR ceased running passenger service over the line in 1961. 1 In 1962, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PATH) acquired the trackage and passenger bridge and began operating PATH trains between Newark and Manhattan.
The PRR merged with the New York Central Railroad in 1968 to form the Penn Central Railroad (PC). 1 PC filed for bankruptcy in 1970 and on May 1, 1971, Amtrak took over PRR’s passenger operations.
Today, the bridge is owned and operated by Amtrak. The west span carries three Amtrak Northeast Corridor tracks, while the east span hosts two PATH tracks and an Amtrak/NJ Transit track. 2
- State: New Jersey
- Route: Amtrak, PATH
- Type: Vertical Lift, Warren Through Truss
- Status: Active - Railroad
- Total Length: 230 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Modica, Glenn R. “The Hackensack River Vertical Lift Bridges Historic District.” New Jersey Department of Transportation.
- “The Dock Bridge.” Lost America Found, 19 Mar. 2017.
- “New Station Open for Hudson Tubes.” New York Times, 20 Jun. 1937, p. 1.
- “Newark Dedicates Its New Terminal; New Bridge Also Ready.” New York Times, 24 Mar. 1935.