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NJ Commuter Aims to Raise Money for Portal Bridge

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

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One New Jersey commuter has taken it upon themselves to find funding for replacing the Portal Bridge: A GoFundMe, started by someone self-named as “Sad Jersey Commuter,” is seeking $920 million to replace the bridge. Only $20 has been raised over the past five days.

"We, the residents, commuters, and visitors of New Jersey, are taking matters into our own hands," the GoFundMe author writes. "We will no longer stand idly by and continue to suffer substandard public transportation."

Portal Bridge History

In October 2017, officials participated in a mock groundbreaking that indicated the plans for the replacement of 108-year-old rail bridge. The North Portal Bridge, which crosses the Hackensack River from New Jersey into New York, opens to let boats and other water traffic through, but fails to close 15 percent of the time, noted CBS New York.

This kind of issue is symptomatic of a larger problem: The swing bridge, as well as some of the associated infrastructure, has aged well past its useful lifespan.

Jim.henderson, CC-Zero, via Wikimedia Commons

One New Jersey commuter has taken it upon themselves to find funding for replacing the Portal Bridge: A GoFundMe, started by someone self-named as “Sad Jersey Commuter,” is seeking $920 million to replace the bridge. Only $20 has been raised over the past five days.

In June of this year, as part of the larger Gateway Project, which is intended to improve area infrastructure, the New Jersey Transit board of directors approved $600 million in funding for the replacement of the bridge. According to NJBIZ, the bonds will be repaid over a 30-year term from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund. NJ Transit estimated that the new bridge will allow for a 10 percent increase in peak hour passenger capacity.

The $1.5 billion two-track replacement span, known as Portal North Bridge, is designed as a high-level, fixed-span bridge, which eliminates the malfunctions of movable components that have often bottlenecked train traffic. Partners include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Another bridge—the two-track Portal South Bridge span—has also been proposed as part of the Gateway Project. The Gateway Project also includes adding a rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York under the Hudson River. The total cost is estimated at more than $20 billion.

Bridge Replacement GoFundMe

According to New Jersey 101.5, Amtrak worked with NJ Transit to complete the final design and federal environmental review for a new bridge. Last month, a tug boat nearly caused the old span to get stuck; at the time, service was halted to ensure the boat had not hit the bridge.

The GoFundMe creator noted that they added $20 million in planning for oversight, but a project of this scale would "totally chew through that in no time, when this goes massively over budget." The page author went on to declare that together, “we the people can own 50 [percent] of this bridge and start to reclaim our travel.”

Those interested in backing the GoFundMe can do so here.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; Project Management; Rail; Transportation

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