In another effort to end Federal inertia on the Portal Bridge project, New Jersey Transit (NJT) has forwarded a new funding plan to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The plan to finance the construction of a new crossing was approved by the NJT Board on Thursday, September 12, and transmitted to the FTA on Friday, Sept. 13.
The latest NJT plan represents an honest effort to respond to previous Federal objections, which asked project proponents to identify dedicated funding sources and to account for possible cost overruns. NJT, taking the lead on this, has now identified $600 million to earmark for the project. Amtrak, NJT’s Portal Bridge project partner, has committed an additional $55 million to the cause.
Acting FTC Administrator, K. Jane Williams, has indicated that the agency is in no hurry to evaluate the new plan. While calling the reworked proposal ‘a new ballgame,’ Administrator Williams anticipated her agency’s review would take months.
The two-track swing-bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910. More than 450 Amtrak and NJT trains use the Portal Bridge, every day. NJT trains carry approximately 90,000 customers on an average weekday. The span must swing open to accommodate Hackensack River marine traffic. With increasing frequency, it can fail to fully close, causing hours of delays on the busiest section of the northeast rail corridor in both directions. The new bridge would be higher above the river, eliminating the need for stoppages related to nautical commerce.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x121.