A Full Funding Grant Agreement (FGA) for the new Portal North Bridge was formally submitted to Congress for its statutorily required 30-day review period, according to a host of New Jersey legislators.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who serves as ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, led the chorus, which was heralded by his counterpart in the Senate Cory Booker, as well as Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr., Albio Sires and Donald Payne.
Under the FGA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award $766.5 million for the project, with an additional $57.1 million sourced from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement. New Jersey will allocate $811 million for the project, with Amtrak providing $261.5 million.
Why Improvements Need to Be Made
The 110-year-old Portal Bridge has been the source for major service disruptions in the New Jersey-New York region along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) for many years.
The bridge carries an average of 450 trains and 200,000 passengers each day, and the bridge is notorious for getting stuck in the open position.
New Jersey legislators have been at work to secure funding for its replacement, and for good reason: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted a sustained closing would cost the U.S. economy nearly $100 million per day.
‘Important and Long-Overdue’
Menendez noted the step was an important and long-overdue milestone in the state’s fight to avoid delays along the tracks linked to the project.
“We are now on the cusp of securing the federal funding we need to replace the oft-malfunctioning Portal Bridge and getting construction underway on a new, modern span, but our work is far from over,” said New Jersey’s senior senator. “We must continue building a 21st century transportation system that ensures New Jersey’s and the region’s economic vitality for generations to come,” he said.
Booker in his comments focused on ensuring commuter safety, arguing the state “must not lose focus on finding long-term solutions to help ensure commuter safety and increase our economic competitiveness through robust infrastructure investment.”
Representatives Celebrate the Milestone
Rep. Pascrell, whose district represents part of Kearny where the Portal North Bridge is located, argued the bridge was a “relic” and “that it was far past time that we upgrade this dangerous structure and modernize our cross-river transportation.”
Rep. Sires noted it was representative of a headwind to wards modernizing New Jersey.
“I have long fought to secure federal funding for the nation’s busiest passenger rail line, which is why I am glad to finally see progress being made on a critical piece to the Gateway Project,” stated Sires. “I look forward to advancing the Portal North Bridge project and urge my colleagues to support its completion.”
Rep. Payne also looked to the future, saying the bridge would “help local and national commuters for the next 100 years.”