New Jersey politicians lobby for federal funding for Portal Bridge replacement

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New Jersey politicians say that a plan to replace the 108-year-old Portal Bridge is ready to go if only they could secure federal money to fund it.

A replacement rail bridge is an integral part of the Gateway Project. Gov. Phil Murphy, along with Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Albio Sires again called on the Trump administration to provide funding for the project.

"We are ready to move forward on replacing the Portal Bridge, and we simply need the Department of Transportation to work with us. The entire New Jersey delegation takes this project incredibly seriously,” says Sherrill.

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The swing bridge is worn from over a century of rail traffic. It will sometimes get stuck, causing train delays on the Northeast Corridor. Officials say that the only way to free the bridge is to use a sledgehammer.

"Can you imagine a bridge that carries over 450 trains a day that you have to use a sledgehammer to line it up? That is embarrassing not only to New Jersey, it is embarrassing to this country,” Sires says.

The representatives say that the project to replace the bridge will cost $11.3 billion – part of the $30 billion overall needed for the Gateway Project, which also includes a new rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York City.

"Every day the Portal Bridge replacement is delayed, it costs an estimated $150,000 and it costs the roughly 200,000 travelers who rely on it functioning…untold stress just hoping that its rusty components can hold for one more train and one more day,” says Murphy.

Amtrak has said the Portal Bridge gets stuck about 15% of the time.

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