Portal North Bridge receives commitment from FTA to move project into engineering phase of CIG Program

June 22, 2020
Moving to the engineering phase is one of the final steps required before a Full Funding Grant Agreement can be issued.

Following years of seemingly snails-pace progress to replace the Portal North Bridge, 2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for the project. According to a statement from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will authorize the project to enter the Core Capacity Engineering phase of the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program.  

“The Federal Transit Administration has committed to authorizing entry into the engineering phase and accelerating federal funding in the amount of $766.5 million for the Portal North Bridge, a huge win for New Jersey, the region and the national economy,” said Gov. Murphy.

The project will replace a malfunction-prone moveable swing span bridge across the Hackensack River with a new, two-track fixed structure bridge. The existing bridge is 110-years old, carries 450 trains every day and is a pinch point along the Northeast Corridor. Should a malfunction or other delay occur at the bridge, the impact cascades throughout the corridor.

Longtime advocate of the project, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) called the news a “testament to the relentless efforts” of project stakeholders and elected officials.

“Portal has long outlived its usefulness and has become the bane of existence for transit riders mired in delays on the Northeast Corridor. Not only must we replace Portal without further delay, but I will not rest until we complete the entire Gateway Project and build a 21st century transportation system that ensures New Jersey’s and the region’s economic vitality for generations to come,” said Sen. Menendez.

The Portal North Bridge entered Core Capacity Project Development of the CIG Program in July 2016. The bridge project, which is estimated to cost $1.8 billion, received a rating from the FTA of Medium-High in February that not only was an improvement over the previous year, but also made the project eligible for federal funding through the CIG Program. More good news for the project followed at the end of May when the Federal Railroad Administration awarded a grant to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit of up to $55.1 million for the Portal North Bridge project through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. 

“Today’s announcement is a huge step for riders, for the region’s and nation’s economies and for finally delivering 21st Century rail transportation between New York and New Jersey,” said Gateway Development Corporation Chairman Steven M. Cohen.

The Portal North Bridge is one of two Gateway Program projects in the CIG Program. The second project, the Hudson Tunnel Project, has not had as standout a year as the Portal North Bridge. However, Cohen explains what is good for Portal North Bridge is good for the Hudson Tunnel Project, as well.

“Because together, they are key elements in unlocking the 109-year-old bottleneck that delays the entire Northeast Corridor and will provide jobs and economic stimulus for the entire region and the nation,” said Cohen.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.