Plan to replace 110-year-old N.J. bridge submitted to Congress

A New Jersey Transit train rides across a portal bridge

In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, a New Jersey Transit train rides across a portal bridge in Kearny, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New Jersey lawmakers say a plan to replace a century-old bridge connecting New Jersey to New York and points north and south has been submitted to Congress for final review.

The long-awaited final agreement with the federal government to pay for construction of a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River has been sent to Congress, which has 30 days to review the $1.8 billion project before funds are released, lawmakers said.

The Portal North bridge is to replace a 110-year-old swing bridge that occasionally becomes stuck after it opens to allow boats to pass under. Nearly 200,000 people and 450 trains cross the bridge each day traveling between New York and points between Boston and Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both D-N.J., and U.S. House members from the Garden State said the Federal Transit Administration is to allocate $766.5 million with an additional $57.1 million coming from the Federal Highway Administration as well as $811 million from the state of New Jersey and $261.5 million from Amtrak.

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The new — and higher — Portal North bridge is a key component of the broader Gateway Project, which includes modernizing rail infrastructure between Newark and New York Penn stations, a new Hudson River rail tunnel and the rehabilitation of the existing century-old tubes damaged by Superstorm Sandy, lawmakers said. The proposed rail tunnel under the Hudson River has been mired in a dispute over how much New York and New Jersey will pay.

“The antiquated, swing-style span over the Hackensack River in Kearny is notorious for breaking down and getting stuck in the open position, stranding commuters and grinding service to a halt,” lawmakers said in a news release.

Menendez, ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, called it “an important and long-overdue milestone in our years-long fight to provide relief to delay-weary commuters and improve the safety and reliability of our transportation network.”

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