Portal Bridge replacement project gets green light with $800M in federal funding

A 110-year-old rail bridge that often has New Jersey commuters frustrated when it gets stuck will finally be replaced.
The Portal North Bridge carries 450 trains and 200,000 passengers every day. Lawmakers spend years convincing the federal government to partially fund a replacement project, and now $800 million in federal funding is finally on its way for a key part of the Gateway Project.
“This is an incredibly important day,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
Menendez stool alongside fellow members of Congress and Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday as New Jersey Transit’s CEO and the state transportation commissioner signed the full funding agreement.
“Today is a moment where $800 million-plus of federal money ultimately begins the end of the agony of those who have had to sit hours away from their families,” Menendez said.
The bridge is a swing-arm design and routinely gets stuck open. It often takes someone with a sledgehammer to bang the gears back into place so that the bridge can properly close.
“The century-old bridge failed us. Now we begin the pathway, not only to rebuilding a state of the art bridge but one to which no one will ever have to wait because it’s going to be stationary,” Menendez said.
The long-delayed Gateway project was devised in the Obama years and kept getting delayed during the Trump administration. But movement on just the Portal Bridge began last year and the funding was signed off on by outgoing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Construction will start under the Biden administration.
“That means hours of more beneficial use, both at work, more time with our families, less time sitting on a bridge that one close and continuing into the new administration,” said Menendez.
The total cost of the bridge replacement project is $1.8 billion. The remaining cost includes just over $800 million from the state and $260 million from Amtrak.