Governor Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Celebrate Critical Step to Bring Portal North Bridge Closer to Full Funding Grant Agreement

Governor Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Celebrate Critical Step to Bring Portal North Bridge Closer to Full Funding Grant Agreement

12/9/2020

Board of Directors Gives Green Light to Enter Into Funding Agreement with Federal Government 

NEWARK — Governor Phil Murphy, Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, and NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett today celebrated the vote by NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors authorizing the execution of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to construct a new Portal North Bridge. The FFGA marks the final stage of the Capital Investment Grant process to fund the $1.8 billion new fixed span across the Hackensack River, and with this Board authorization the FFGA is nearly ready to be signed pending final USDOT and Congressional review. The current 110-year-old Portal Bridge has long been the source of congestion and mechanical issues, resulting in delays for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak commuters.

“Since taking office, one of my top priorities has been to secure funding for key infrastructure projects that will carry our commuters and our economy forward,” said Governor Murphy. “I’m thrilled by the Board’s decision today to green light this agreement, which moves us one step closer to replacing this unreliable, century-old bridge that has threatened to grind the Northeast Corridor to a halt and been a source of untold stress for thousands of riders who rely on it. New Jersey has put our skin in the game with more than our fair share of funding, and I look forward to working with the Federal Transit Administration to get this shovel-ready project started.”

“The Portal North Bridge replacement is one of the most important infrastructure projects we are undertaking to improve service reliability and safety for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Today’s Board action is a critical step to finalizing the federal grant agreement and beginning construction.”

“We are extremely pleased the Board of Directors has given us authorization to enter into the Full Funding Grant Agreement for Portal North Bridge,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett. “We’re grateful for the unwavering support of Governor Murphy, Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti and our New Jersey Congressional delegation. We also thank the USDOT, and our partners at the FTA, FRA and Amtrak, for their support of this critical project of national significance that will improve reliability for the tens of thousands of NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers who cross the Portal Bridge every day.”

Authorization of this agreement will allow NJ TRANSIT, with the assistance of Amtrak, to 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 and provide the following benefits to the busiest section of railroad in North America by:

  • Eliminating the moveable span;
  • Improving reliability;
  • Increasing train speeds; and
  • Removing conflicts with maritime traffic.

The new Portal North Bridge is fully designed and fully permitted, having received a Record-of-Decision from the Federal Railroad Administration in 2013, which was adopted by the FTA in August 2017.

The replacement, which will be preliminarily owned by NJ TRANSIT and maintained by Amtrak, is designed as a high-level, fixed span bridge that will allow marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting rail traffic. Once full construction begins, the remainder of the Portal North Bridge Project is estimated to take approximately five years.

To help fund the project, the FTA will provide $766.5 million through the Section 5309 Capital Investment Grants Program and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide $57.1 million through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.  The remainder will be allocated by New Jersey’s local share of $811 million and Amtrak’s obligation of $261.5 million.  The FFGA also includes financing for 25 new multilevel rail cars to further increase capacity.  The rail cars are options on NJ TRANSIT’s existing order of 113 new multilevel cars.

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