NJ Transit approves financing agreement for new Portal Bridge

NEWARK, NJ — On June 13, the NJ Transit board of directors approved a financing agreement with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that provides up to $600 million toward the construction of a new Portal Bridge. The commitment solidifies New Jersey’s local share of the project cost.

The existing Portal Bridge, built in 1910, is a two-track, railroad swing-type drawbridge that spans the Hackensack River in New Jersey. The project will replace the existing two-track Portal Bridge with a new two-track fixed structure that will be approximately 2.33 miles long and will have a clearance that accommodates current and forecasted maritime traffic, which will eliminate the need for a moveable span that interrupts rail operations and results in delays due to mechanical failures. When built, the new Portal North Bridge will allow for a 10-percent increase in peak hour passenger capacity.

“We’re not going to kick the can down the road any longer,” Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit board Chairwoman Dianne Gutierrez-Scaccetti said in a press release. “The time is long overdue for a new Portal Bridge, which is the foundation of many commuter frustrations. The taxpayers of New Jersey deserve a transportation system which will drive the economy and reliably get them to jobs, schools and recreation.”

“This funding is proof that Gov. Murphy, NJ Transit and the state of New Jersey are firmly committed to advancing this vital transportation infrastructure project,” NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said in the release. “Our customers have suffered far too long from the outdated, unreliable Portal Bridge. A new bridge can’t wait any longer.”

The resolution approved by the NJ Transit board of directors authorizes the executive director in consultation with the board chairperson to execute and deliver the funding agreement with the NJEDA. The EDA will issue up to $600 million in bonds, which will be paid back over a 30-year term from the state Transportation Trust Fund. This same funding structure was utilized in 1999 for the construction of the River LINE light rail system.