Modjeski and Masters Breaks Ground on New Portageville Arch Bridge

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Replacement Meets Demands of Modern Freight Railroad Traffic

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Rendering of the Portageville Bridge scheduled to be completed in 2018

We worked closely with Norfolk Southern to give them a bridge that is both engineered to last into the future and is consistent with the natural surroundings.

On Wednesday, Oct. 27, Modjeski and Masters participated in a groundbreaking for the new Portageville Arch Railroad Bridge. Also in attendance were Norfolk Southern Chairman and CEO Jim Squires and New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll.

Also known as the High Bridge and located in Letchworth State Park in Portageville, N.Y., the Portageville Bridge project is a collaboration between Norfolk Southern, New York State Department of Transportation and Modjeski and Masters. The new bridge is scheduled to be completed and open to rail traffic in 2018.

The new structure replaces a historic 820-foot steel viaduct built in 1875. The bridge serves as a vital link along the Southern Tier Route across the Genesee River. However, given its age, it had become a weak link along the route and could no longer meet the demands of a Class 1 Heavy Freight Railroad.

“As with much of our infrastructure, the High Bridge was impeccably built but has reached the end of its lifespan,” said Kevin Johns, Modjeski and Masters’ project manager for the Portageville Bridge. “Modern freight cars demand a more supportive structure. We worked closely with Norfolk Southern to give them a bridge that is both engineered to last into the future and is consistent with the natural surroundings.”

The new steel main arch span is 483 feet long, with a total project length of 819 feet. It will carry one track 235 feet above the Genesee River. Upon completion of the new span, the existing bridge will be removed.

“The Portageville Bridge project is located in a very picturesque setting. Modjeski and Masters’ design matches the beauty of the location,” said Howard Swanson, Regional Engineer Structures at Norfolk Southern. “The design meets all of the needs of a modern railroad structure while being sensitive to the concerns that were raised while creating the Environmental Impact Statement.”

Photos of the groundbreaking ceremony and renderings of the Portageville Bridge can be found here.

About Modjeski and Masters
Modjeski and Masters is one of the world’s leading bridge engineering firms, with a reputation for technical excellence and innovation that goes beyond current standards. Established more than 120 years ago, the firm is responsible for the design and maintenance of some of our nation’s most recognizable structures. Services include fixed and movable bridge design, inspection and rehabilitation and all facets of lifecycle maintenance, research and code development. For more information, including in-depth videos of Modjeski and Masters at work, please visit

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Adam Curtis
Abel Communications
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