The long-awaited final agreement with the federal government to fund a new Portal Bridge was sent to Congress Friday night for final approval, effectively ending the years-long quest to finance a replacement for the century-old span over the Hackensack River.
Congress now has 30 days to review the $1.8 billion project before the funds are released.
The agreement calls for the Federal Transit Administration to contribute $766.5 million, the Federal Highway Administration $57.1 million, New Jersey $811 million and Amtrak $261.5 million.
“This is 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,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee overseeing transit.
NJ Transit approved the agreement on Wednesday.
The 110-year-old drawbridge over the Hackensack River has been a major chokepoint in the Northeast Corridor, as the span several times gets stuck in the open position after letting boats pass underneath.
The new fixed span will be higher so boats will be unimpeded.
“Replacing and upgrading this century-old infrastructure is crucial to ensuring that passengers no longer need to worry about delays caused by needing to set the bridge back in place,’' said Rep. Albio Sires, D-8th Dist., a member of the House Transportation Committee.
The long wait for federal funding ended in February when the Federal Transit Administration raised the rating on the bridge to medium-high, making it eligible for help from Washington.
Then after a June dinner at his Bedminster golf club with Gov. Phil Murphy, President Donald Trump announced he would let the federal dollars flow.
The Portal Bridge is one part of the Gateway project, which includes a new train tunnel under the Hudson River so the existing tubes can be closed to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Trump has remained opposed to funding the tunnels, but he leaves office Jan. 20 and President-elect Joe Biden has endorsed construction.
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., another member of the House Transportation Committee, said he looked forward to “working with the incoming administration to advance the Hudson River Tunnel portion of the Gateway project.”