Portal Bridge project now eligible for federal funds; Gateway tunnel still ‘low priority’

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There is some good news and some bad news when it comes to traveling by rail between New York and New Jersey. Federal officials say that funds will be made available to replace the Portal Bridge. But no such funds will be made available for the Gateway Tunnel Project.

The federal government deemed the Portal Bridge project a “medium-high priority,” which frees up federal funds for the $1.6 billion project.

The rail bridge over the Hackensack River is 109 years old and is prone to getting stuck, often causing delays for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains.

RELATED: Officials: Failure of Hudson River rail tunnel would be ‘devastating’ to country 
RELATED: New Jersey politicians lobby for federal funding for Portal Bridge replacement 

“For folks who don’t know it, it’s a swing bridge. Which means it swings open when there is marine traffic. And then it swings back in and then a person…has to hit a spike to put it back into place. This is 2020, not 1820,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.

But the project to replace the Hudson River rail tunnels was given too low a priority to be eligible for federal funds. The multibillion-dollar project has been a major concern for New Jersey and New York authorities. Thousands travel through the century-old tunnel daily

“It’s one track in and one track out and its 109-years-old,” says Stephen Sigmund with the Gateway Development Corporation.

The current tunnel was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The replacement project is expected to cost $11 billion. Transit officials say that if the tunnel fails, it will have catastrophic consequences for the region and even the whole country.

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