NJ Transit Board authorizes FFGA with FTA for Portal North Bridge

Dec. 10, 2020
The requested $766 million in CIG funds for the bridge project still need to undergo USDOT and Congressional review before being finalized.

A plan to fix a Northeast Corridor pinch point with a new Portal Bridge gained a key approval this week. The New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) Board of Directors authorized the execution of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this week. The grant agreement will still need to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Congress before it is signed and executed.  

NJ Transit is requesting $766.5 million in Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program funding to replace the malfunction-prone 110-year-old Portal Bridge. In addition to the CIG funds, Amtrak is providing more than $261.5 million to the project, $57.1 million will be funded with Federal Highway Administration Flexible Funds and state revenues will contribute $811 million toward the total $1.8-billion project cost. Earlier this year, Amtrak with joint applicant NJ Transit was awarded up to $55.1 million by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program.

The FFGA includes financing for 25 new multilevel rail cars to further increase capacity. The rail cars are options on NJ Transit’s existing order of 113 new multilevel cars with Bombardier.

“Since taking office, one of my top priorities has been to secure funding for key infrastructure projects that will carry our commuters and our economy forward,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “I’m thrilled by the board’s decision today 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. 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 Federal Transit Administration to get this shovel-ready project started.”

The Portal North Bridge project entered Core Capacity Project Development of the CIG Program in July 2016 and gained approval from FTA to enter the engineering phase of the CIG Program in June.

The new high-level, fixed-span bridge will be owned by NJ Transit and maintained by Amtrak. The new bridge will allow marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting the up to 450 trains that use the bridge every day.  

“The Portal North Bridge replacement is one of the most important infrastructure projects we are undertaking to improve service reliability and safety for NJ Transit and Amtrak customers,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

Once full construction begins, the remainder of the Portal North Bridge Project is estimated to take approximately five years.

“We are extremely pleased the board of directors has given us authorization to enter into the Full Funding Grant Agreement for Portal North Bridge,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “We’re grateful for the unwavering support of Governor Murphy, Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti and our New Jersey Congressional delegation. We also thank the USDOT, and our partners at the FTA, FRA and Amtrak, for their support of this critical project of national significance that will improve reliability for the tens of thousands of NJ Transit and Amtrak customers who cross the Portal Bridge every day.”

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.