The U.S. Coast Guard will make its rush-hour ban on marine traffic under the portal bridge permanent, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez announced Tuesday.
“This is fantastic news for rail commuters and I applaud the Coast Guard for taking this significant step, but this is by no means the end of the line in our efforts to ensure we have a safe, reliable and modern transportation network,” Menendez said. “While a permanent rush hour ban will alleviate pressure on the Portal Bridge and restore some reliability to the system, riders will never truly have peace of mind and faith in our rail system until the century-old, oft-malfunctioning span is replaced and a new Hudson rail tunnel built.”
In March, the Coast guard agreed to a six-month ban on rush-hour marine traffic that required the opening of the portal bridge.
The ban was spurred by two separate bridge failures on Oct. 30, 2018 that left more than 155,000 Amtrak and NJ Transit passengers stranded after 164 trains were cancelled or delayed.
The bridge failed to properly close five times in 2018, though there have been no significant service interruptions since the ban on rush-hour marine traffic when into effect.
“This decision will provide relief and confidence to commuters who cross the Portal Bridge every day,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Although this is no silver bullet that eliminates the need for a new Portal Bridge, this new rule is a commonsense determination that balances the economic interests of maritime activity with the daily commutes of rail passengers, and shows the progress that can be made through good-faith partnerships between state and local stakeholders and the federal government.”