New York Build Networking

14 Feb 2020

Portal North Bridge Project Status Upgrades to Engineering Phase

Melina Druga
The upgrade means the project moves to the engineering phase

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced it has upgraded its rating for the Portal North Bridge replacement project to medium-high.

The upgrade means the project moves to the engineering phase and will soon be able to receive federal funding.

The rating for the construction of a new trans-Hudson River rail tunnel stayed at a low rating.

The 109-year-old Portal Bridge is part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Approximately 450 trains travel between Newark, N.J., and Penn Station, N.Y., each day.

The bridge’s mechanical components sometimes malfunction while opening and closing for maritime traffic causing traffic delays and bottlenecks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are working to develop a funding and financing plan.

A new bridge will cost an estimated $1.5 billion. The project recently completed the $31 million design process. Costs were shared between NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak. The final design stage will cost $38.5 million and is funded by a Federal Railroad Administration grant.

The planned two-track, Portal North Bridge will be a high-level, fixed-span bridge. A proposed two-track Portal South Bridge would double train capacity.

The New Jersey statehouse welcomed the project’s rating upgrade.

“From day one, my administration has worked closely with our congressional delegation and Secretary (Elaine) Chao’s team to enhance this critical project that cannot wait another day — we have committed the entirety of New Jersey’s local share in the form of $600 million in EDA (Economic Development Authority) bonds, completed critical early construction work and developed shovel-ready plans for major construction,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Today’s decision by USDOT puts us one step closer toward our ultimate goal: replacing this unreliable, century-old bridge and reducing delays for NJ TRANSIT customers. New Jersey remains ready and willing to work cooperatively as a full partner to ensure that this project, which affects the commutes of tens of thousands of our residents daily, is completed as expeditiously as possible.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, also applauded the change.

“Make no mistake about it, this is the most significant step forward for the Gateway Program since this administration took office,” Menendez said. “It is a goal that I have worked towards or years in my role as the ranking member on the Senate’s transit subcommittee and is a testament to the dedication of stakeholders like NJ Transit and Amtrak, Governor Murphy, Sen. (Cory) Booker, and the entire Congressional delegation. Together, we worked to overcome unprecedented political opposition to advance a significant piece of the nation’s most critical infrastructure project that will help us meet the needs of our commuters and reinforce the backbone of the Northeast Corridor. However, our work is far from over.”

Menendez said he hopes the Trump Administration has recognized the Gateway Project is of national significance, but that he will continue to work for the advancement of the project.

Read more at Transportation Today 

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