An $823.6 million full funding grant agreement to construct a new Portal Bridge reached its final hurdle on Friday night when the Federal Transit Administration submitted it to Congress for a 30-day review, members of the New Jersey congressional delegation said today.
The review, required by statute, is the final step prior to the official approval of federal funding to replace the 110-year-old bridge, which allows trains to cross the Hudson River.
The announcement was made by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) and Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).
“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 Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transit subcommittee.
The total cost of the bridge replacement is $1.8 billion. The State of New Jersey has pledged $811, with another $261.5 million coming from AMTRAK.
Pascrell described the Portal Bridge as a “relic.”
“It is far past time that we upgrade this dangerous structure and modernize our cross-river transportation,” he said.
The bridge carries about one train every six minutes on the trip between New Jersey and New York and it’s failing conditions have led to massive service disruptions for New Jersey Transit and AMTRAK.
“Delays caused by the unreliable, century-old Portal Bridge have plagued not only New Jersey commuters for far too long, but also commuters across the entire Northeast Corridor,” Booker said. “As we continue the fight to advance this vital project, we must not lose focus on finding long-term solutions to help ensure commuter safety and increase our economic competitiveness through robust infrastructure investment, including completion of the Gateway Program.”
According to the congressional delegation, the Northeast Corridor that connects Washington, DC to Boston is responsible for about 20% of the nation’s economy and its failure would rest in about $100 million per day in lost production and economic activity.
“This grant agreement is the necessary next step towards making headway on a new and updated Portal North Bridge for New Jersey,” Sires said. “Replacing and upgrading this century-old infrastructure is crucial to ensuring that passengers no longer need to worry about delays caused by needing to set the bridge back in place.”
Malinowski called securing funding for the bridge “a major win for New Jersey commuters.” He said it was the result of “relentless congressional pressure.”
“I look forward to construction starting as soon as possible, and to working with the incoming Administration to advance the Hudson River Tunnel portion of the Gateway Project,” Malinowski said.
The full funding grant agreement put the FTA piece of the project at $766.5 million, with an another $57.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration.
The next step for the delegation is approval of the Gateway tunnel.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will make this a top priority when President-elect Joe Biden takes office next year.