Federal Transit Officials Finalize $766.5 Million Grant for Portal North Bridge Replacement

(The Center Square) – The federal government is giving a $766.5 million grant to help fund a new bridge across the Hackensack River in Hudson County.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the funding as part of a Capital Investment Grant (CIG) agreement with NJ Transit for the Portal North Bridge Project. The project, which includes more than 2.4 miles of “related railroad infrastructure,” is estimated to cost nearly $1.9 billion.

Officials say the new two-track fixed-structure will reduce maintenance expenses of an existing 110-year old bridge. They argue it will also improve the reliability of commuter rail service along the Northeast Corridor.

“This $766.5 million federal grant agreement will greatly improve the reliability of commuter rail and Amtrak service for thousands of passengers traveling through the Northeast Corridor, one of the busiest rail lines in the nation,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release.

In December, the NJ Transit board of directors agreed to a funding plan for the project.

The board voted to authorize an agreement with the FTA to build the new bridge. In addition to the FTA funding, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide $57.1 million, New Jersey will allocate $811 million and Amtrak will give $261.5 million.

The “federal investment underscores the Administration’s commitment to fund infrastructure that creates jobs and helps communities continue to recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency,” FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a news release.

NJ Transit will primarily own the new bridge, while Amtrak will maintain it. The new structure, which is already designed and permitted, is part of the Gateway Program plan to improve the Northeast Corridor between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station.

“With construction of a new bridge, we’ll eliminate one of the most-frustrating choke-points in the entire Northeast Corridor, improving commutes for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a news release.

House Democrats from New Jersey hope the incoming administration of Joe Biden, a known fan of Amtrak, will be more generous with the purse strings. At the end of last year, nine members of New Jersey’s House delegation and the state’s two senators sent a letter to Biden urging him to “prioritize the completion of the Hudson River Tunnel and Portal North Bridge projects” after his inauguration.

“Today marks the culmination of an exhausting, years-long fight to secure the federal funding we need to replace the antiquated and oft-malfunctioning Portal Bridge that has been the bane of existence for New Jersey commuters,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, said in a news release.

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