New Jersey Transit has approved entering into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the new, $1.8 billion fixed-span Portal North Bridge on the Northeast Corridor, crossing the Hackensack River in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Portal North, part of the massive Gateway Program, will replace 110-year-old Portal Bridge, a mechanical-trouble-plagued swing bridge built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910 as part of its New York Improvements project.
The FFGA is the last stage of the Capital Investment Grant process to fund Portal North. The FTA will provide just over $766 million, with the Federal Highway Administration providing roughly $57 million. NJT and Amtrak will provide the balance of funding, about $977 million, and share operating and maintenance.
Portal North’s design has been finalized, and construction, expected to last about five years, is fully permitted, having received a Record-of-Decision from the Federal Railroad Administration in 2013 that was adopted by the FTA in August 2017. Advocates say a fixed span is required because it negates the potential for train delays on the busy “High Line” portion of the NEC, which links Penn Station Newark (now undergoing a $190 million renovation) with Penn Station New York, itself undergoing numerous improvements and expansion.
“I’m thrilled by the NJ Transit Board’s decision to green-light this agreement, which moves us one step closer to replacing this unreliable, century-old bridge that has threatened to grind the Northeast Corridor to a halt and been a source of untold stress for thousands of riders who rely on it,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “New Jersey has put our skin in the game with more than our fair share of funding, and I look forward to working with the FTA to get this shovel-ready project started.”