A win for commuters: Portal Bridge won’t open during rush hours
KEARNY — The Coast Guard has agreed not to allow marine traffic on the Hackensack River that would require the Portal Bridge to be opened during peak travel hours.
The request to limit openings came from Amtrak, Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker after the 108-year old Portal Bridge failed to close properly on Oct. 30. That forced the delay and cancellation of 164 NJ Transit and Amtrak trains affecting more than 155,000 passengers.
Amtrak, which owns and maintains the bridge, is required to open the century-old bridge with an hour's notice during the two busiest times of the day. Under the new agreement, the Coast Guard agreed to not allow any vessel that would require the bridge to open weekdays between 5 and 10 a.m. and 3 and 8 p.m. The exception is due to tidal restrictions that would require two hours notice.
The Coast Guard put the agreement into effect on Thursday at 12:01 a.m. It will remain in effect for six months until September and can be extended.
"This is a win for commuters as we continue work towards our ultimate goal—the replacement of the Portal Bridge and completion of the Gateway Project," said Menendez, who first proposed the idea, in announcing the agreement.
Murphy thanked the Coast Guard for helping rail riders have a more reliable ride. He also took the opportunity to call upon President Donald Trump to fund the Gateway Project, which would replace the bridge and build new Hudson River tunnels.
Trump's proposed budget provides no funding for the Gateway Project. Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Rosen told reporters at a budget briefing on Tuesday that the $30 billion project is a "local responsibility" for New Jersey and New York.
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