Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. joined Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, along with fellow house members Donald Payne, Jr., Albio Sires and Mikie Sherrill in applauding final approval of a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Portal North Bridge.
The grant will provide $800 million in federal dollars for a new Portal North Bridge, with NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett signing the agreement Jan. 14. The grant agreement was previously signed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
With the funding, improvements will be made the 110-year-old rail span, which acts at the linchpin to the Northeast Corridor.
NJ Transit, with the assistance of Amtrak, will construct, operate, and maintain a new Portal North Bridge and 2.44 miles of related railroad infrastructure. The project will address critical issues that have long plagued the Portal Bridge. Supporters noted the new bridge will improve reliability, increase train speeds, and removing conflicts with maritime traffic.
Breaking Free of the ‘Stone Age’
Rep. Pascrell commented New Jersey commuters had long suffered due to a “bridge nearly as old as the Stone Age” and the frequent breakdowns on the rail line.
“This is a big step to finally replacing this decaying structure. Our entire delegation will work hand in glove with…President Joe Biden to finish the job. It is a top priority and will remain one until Portal Bridge is replaced,” he said.
Rep. Payne echoed the sentiments, arguing the current bridge served the state well but that the state needed “a modern bridge to help commuters for the next 110 years.”
Under the agreement, the FTA will provide $766.5 million in Capital Investment Grants funding, with an additional $57.1 million provided through the FTA’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.
The balance of the $1.8 billion projects will be provided by the State of New Jersey ($811 million) and Amtrak ($261.5 million.)
Sen. Menendez, who served as the Ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Mass Transit subcommittee, noted the funding approval was the culmination of a years-long fight to collect federal funding.
New Jersey’s Senators Applaud the Bridge
“New Jerseyans deserve a safe and reliable transportation network, and that means advancing the entire Gateway program, which includes replacing the Portal Bridge and building a new trans-Hudson Rail Tunnels,” he said.
Sen. Booker added he was looking “forward to working with the…Biden Administration to harness the momentum from this project and see the entire Gateway Program through to completion.”
The construction of the Portal North Bridge is considered a key component of the Gateway Project, which includes modernizing rail infrastructure between Newark and New York Penn Stations. Additionally, it includes construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel and rehabilitating the existing century-old tubes.
“New Jersey is home to our nation’s most critical infrastructure needs and this funding agreement is a major milestone towards addressing them,” said Congresswoman Sherrill. “It is a testament to the tenacity of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, state and local leaders, and transportation stakeholders that this agreement could be reached amidst many obstacles put in place.”
Rep. Sires, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the replacement of the bridge would mitigate New Jerseyans no longer need to worry about delays caused by setting bridge back into place.
“This is the first of many steps that will be taken in the coming years to improve the critical infrastructure of New Jersey, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration towards further advancing progress on the Gateway Project,” said Sires.