Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Murphy, Legislative and Congressional Leaders Call for Federal Funding for Portal Bridge Replacement

08/28/2019

SECAUCUS – Standing alongside state congressional and legislative leaders, Governor Phil Murphy today called upon federal officials to join the Murphy Administration in full partnership to help fund the replacement of the 108-year-old moveable Portal Bridge. 

“The successful and efficient operation of the Northeast Corridor has profound consequences for our region’s commuters and economy, and no bridge improvement project is more consequential to the flow of goods and services than the Portal North Bridge Project,” said Governor Murphy. “While federal officials have continued to move the goalposts, New Jersey and our partners have held up our end of the bargain, have put more skin in the game, and developed financial, construction, and engineering plans that are second-to-none. New Jersey is ready. The time to build Portal North Bridge is now.” 

“Our entire region and one-fifth of the nation’s economy hinges on an oft-malfunctioning, century-old swing bridge that routinely fails and grinds the Northeast Corridor and our transportation network to a halt.  It must be replaced; delay and inaction are not an option,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee.  “We can get Gateway done faster and cheaper with President Trump on board.  The Portal Bridge replacement is a project of national significance, it’s shovel-ready, and the state has done its part.  It’s time for the Trump Administration to step up.” 

“Portal Bridge is the linchpin of the Northeast Corridor which thousands of people and billions of dollars of economic productivity travel along, which is why the Gateway Program is our nation’s most vital infrastructure project,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “New Jersey commuters deal with the realities of infrastructure that is over 100 years old every day, but a permanent shutdown would pale in comparison. This bridge’s replacement is too important to the economic vitality, safety, and security of our region to be ignored. This administration needs to do the right thing and provide the federal funding needed to start this project before it’s too late.” 

“Gateway is the most important infrastructure project in the nation. Without critical federal investment soon, the Portal Bridge and century-old Hudson Tunnel will face increasing safety risks and could eventually become unusable,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “This would impact hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans, New Yorkers and others who travel the Northeast Corridor for their daily commute. Despite a $5.5 billion commitment in funding from New Jersey and New York, the Trump Administration continues to slow-walk and delay investment that would allow the Gateway Project to move forward. I urge The Trump Administration to immediately take up and approve the recently revised Gateway proposal that will finally allow workers in our state to put shovels in the ground. We simply cannot wait any longer.”  

“Now over a century old, the Portal Bridge is a constant source of delays for commuters. It is long past time to replace it,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. “Thankfully, the state and New Jersey’s congressional delegation have been working together with the U.S. DOT to unlock every dollar we deserve. The roadblocks that have been put up by the Trump administration will not stand. I am proud of the work of my colleagues in the State and in our congressional delegation to get this shovel ready project done.” 

"The Portal Bridge moves nearly 450 trains each day between Newark and New York, but its infrastructure is so old it sometimes has to be set into place by workmen with hammers in the middle of rush hour,” said Congressman Albio Sires. “This infrastructure is important to our workers and our economy, which is why New Jersey has done its part to get the project moving forward. The project is shovel-ready and our state is committing $600 million to pay for our share and it is time for the Administration to see the obvious — this project is necessary and ready to go once we get federal assistance." 

“A bridge designed during the Civil War and in use since the early 1900’s has well live past its usefulness,” said Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. “It is imperative that it is replaced. The longer we continue to use this obsolete bridge, the more it becomes a calamity waiting to happen.  We know that 20 percent of the country’s GDP travels through the Northeast Corridor, so this is a project of National implication.  New Jersey and New York are ready.  Now, it is time for the Trump Administration to act!”   

"We need to update our aging infrastructure and, when we invest properly, we will add high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said Congressman Donald Norcross. “I know that the best social program is a good job with fair wages – and we can put Americans to work right now on projects, like the Portal Bridge replacement project, that will make our communities safer and boost our regional and national economies.” 

“The Northeast Corridor Line is a backbone of commerce and travel between for our region and the country,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “To continue to entrust our economic strength to a 108-year-old bridge with structural deficiencies and a history of breakdowns is insane. The Gateway Project, of which a new portal bridge is a fundamental component, is necessary to the continued success of the corridor. I worked hard to secure support for Gateway in the fiscal year 2020 THUD Appropriations bill that passed in the House earlier this year so that federal funds will be available to support this critical infrastructure project. What’s needed now is action, and I applaud Gov. Murphy’s continued to work to put us on the path to a partnership that will get this done.” 

"The Portal Bridge and Gateway Project, and New Jersey's economic future, are being held hostage by petty partisan politics." said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. "New Jersey has done its financial part to get the Gateway Project moving. Now it's time for our federal partners to do theirs, and actually invest in our crumbling infrastructure. The National economy depends on this key economic artery. Relying on bridges and tunnels that are more than a 100 years old is reckless and short-sighted. 

“New Jersey has made a clear commitment to funding its portion of the Portal North Bridge project. The Department of Transportation has now recognized that fact, and I look forward to working with the New Jersey Delegation and the DOT to deliver the funding Congress has already approved so that this shovel ready project can get off the ground,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski. 

"There is a serious problem when a guy with a hammer is single-handedly keeping our transit system from grinding to a halt,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “The Northeast rail corridor is the most heavily trafficked in the nation and our region produces 20 percent of the nation's GDP.  The Portal replacement project is shovel ready, and we need the Department of Transportation to work with New Jersey so we can continue to fuel the economic engine of the United States." 

“The time is long past to stop talking about investing in our infrastructure and start putting our money where we know the problems are,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “From the Gateway Tunnel and the Portal Bridge to roads across Burlington and Ocean Counties, we need to come together and deliver the resources we need for infrastructure that works.”
 
“The Portal North Bridge Project is a critical component in fixing the state’s transportation infrastructure for commuters and residents,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “The bridge was built 109 years ago when Taft was president and ten years before the Band Aid was invented. The structure is now in desperate need of replacement for the safety of all New Jersey’s commuters.”

Spanning the Hackensack River, the Portal Bridge all too often serves as a bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor and a historic source of train congestion. Its outdated swing-span design is a cause of disruptions and delays for commuters up and down the Northeast Corridor as mechanical failure frequently causes the bridge to become stuck after it is opened for maritime traffic. 

The $1.6 billion replacement project would construct a high-level fixed-span structure that would eliminate mechanical malfunctions, increase train speeds and allow NJ TRANSIT to increase seating capacity by more than 10%. 

Federal funding for the shovel-ready project requires a medium or higher rating from the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT). The project had previously earned the necessary rating, but despite a $600 million commitment from the State of New Jersey and extensive commitments from project sponsors and partners, the rating was downgraded by the Trump Administration’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

As evidenced by previous financial submissions made by NJ TRANSIT as project sponsor, New Jersey has completed every possible administrative step short of the actual issuance of the bonds. Additionally, the State of New Jersey reached out to the FTA to understand options to begin aspects of bridge construction that could be reimbursed by federal resources later, however, this request went unanswered. 

“The Portal Bridge carries more than 400 trains a day. Ask any commuter that rides along the Northeast Corridor and they will confirm the importance of the reliability this bridge has on their daily lives,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chair Diane Gutierrez- Scaccetti. “New Jersey is a critical link to the economic viability of the region, which makes the replacement of this bridge a priority. Governor Murphy’s dedication to this project serves as a testament to his resolve to improve the quality of life for all New Jerseyans and those who travel through the state for business or pleasure.”   

“Replacement of the Portal Bridge is already long overdue, and it must move forward without delay.  The existing, functionally obsolete bridge is more than a century old and a significant constraint on economic growth for our region. NJT has all permits in place, 100% design, and a robust local funding plan,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett.  “The new bridge will be suitable for the needs of our 90,000 daily interstate customers and increase our capacity in and out of New York by 10% while allowing for faster and more reliable service each day.” 

Jerry Zaro, Chairman and New Jersey Trustee of the Gateway Program Development Corporation, said, “In the 21st Century, we should have reliable rail transportation that works for passengers and the nation’s economy.  That means finally replacing this 108 year old swing bridge with modern technology.  We’re grateful to Governor Murphy, our Congressional delegation and Legislative leadership for always fighting for Gateway.” 

“Amtrak is eager to replace the century-old, moveable Portal Bridge with a higher-clearance fixed span that will provide Northeast Corridor passengers with improved reliability, faster speeds, and more NJ TRANSIT seats,” said Tony Coscia, Amtrak Chairman and Vice Chairman of GDC. “We appreciate the support and commitments of Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Congressional delegation and Legislative leaders and look forward to advancing Portal North Bridge to construction as soon as possible.”