Hackettstown Bridge over Drain Weight Restriction Elimination Project

The Washington Secondary/Morristown Line railroad corridor extends from Phillipsburg to Morristown. It provides rail freight access to businesses in Warren and Morris Counties, including businesses along the three Morris County-owned branch lines. Since 1995, the Association of American Railroads has maintained a national standard that allows loading up to 286,000 pounds (286K) per rail car. However, rail cars moving along the corridor are each limited to 263,000 pounds.

Hackettstown bridge map

The 3rd Avenue Drainage Culvert, a small bridge, located along the Washington Secondary in Hackettstown, Warren County is structurally deficient. The bridge’s condition limits the weight of rail cars that can be carried across it. As a result, many of the rail cars that serve the businesses along the corridor and the connecting rail lines cannot be fully loaded.

A Freight Concept Development Study was completed by the NJTPA in 2020 to develop potential alternatives to improve the carrying capacity of the bridge. Allowing 286k rail cars to cross over the bridge would benefit the rail served businesses along the Washington Secondary/Morristown Line and the connecting branch lines owned by Morris County. Allowing increased loading per rail car would enable the corridor to meet the current industry standard for weight limits, support economic competitiveness and growth, and make rail freight movement more cost-effective. It could also encourage the development of vacant and underutilized industrial properties along the rail line. A preferred alternative was identified in the Study.