New Jersey Transit has submitted an updated funding plan for the Portal North Bridge project, which includes the issuance of $600 million in municipal bonds, as well as some capital funding from the state’s $32 billion Transportation Trust Fund run by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
NJ Transit also provided an update on its progress on the $20 billion Hudson River Tunnel project, saying the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey – and not the Gateway Development Program Corp. – will be the sole applicant for a National Environmental Policy Act and Conservative Innovation Grant from the federal government. Both grants are needed for the project, which involves $30 billion in improvements to the rail systems connecting New York and New Jersey.
The updated plan was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration today.
The plan also addresses questions raised by the FTA in previous submittals. Additional highlights include a $33 million reduction in federal CIG contribution – from $844 million to $811 million – and a $160 million reduction in the construction cost to less than $1.6 billion.
GDPC predicts that with the issuance of state-backed bonds and a full commitment from local communities, the FTA should give the project to a “medium” to “high” rating, allowing it to advance through the Capital Investment Grant Core Capacity grant program toward a Full Funding Grant Agreement. GDPC voted to approve the bond issuance earlier this month.
Once an FFGA is executed, the GDC can award contracts to construction companies to start building the new Portal North Bridge. It is estimated the project will increase NJ Transit capacity by 10 percent through more predictable use of modern, new double-decker equipment replacing aging single-level cars, lengthening trains and faster speeds on the new bridge.