RPA Testimony at June 2018 Gateway Development Corporation Meeting

Good morning, my name is Chasity Cooper, and I am the Senior Associate for Communications at the Regional Plan Association.

I am here today to commend New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, along with NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett and the NJ Transit Board of Directors for the commitment they made this week to the local funding for Portal Bridge.

Replacing Portal Bridge is the first step of the Gateway Program and it will bring tangible benefits for the over 166,000 NJ Transit and Amtrak riders alike whose daily commutes depend on it. For many of these people, a new bridge can’t come soon enough.

Portal Bridge is over 100 years old, far older than most other bridges in the country. As it ages, Amtrak and NJ Transit workers are doing admirable work trying to maintain it. But it’s shoveling against the tide. The bridge was stuck open three times already this year alone, inconveniencing and frustrating passengers from New York, New Jersey and along the eastern seaboard.

For commuters, two of these three delays also resulted in a massive economic hit to their employers.

The Partnership for NYC estimates that City employers incur $5.9 million in losses for each hour of delay on NJ Transit operations.

When Portal Bridge was stuck open in January, it lead to over 2 hours of delays. That’s over $10 million in economic loss. In March, the bridge got stuck right at the start of rush hour. It destroyed the rush hour commute that day for the most part, the economic impact was even higher.

Now that Governor Murphy and NJ Transit have stepped up with the local funding for this project, it’s time for the other partners to do their part.

This is a FEDERALLY OWNED bridge, and the Federal government must help fund the replacement. And New York and the Port Authority must also do their part to help move this project forward.

Everyone in this room knows that there is no time to lose when it comes to Portal Bridge or the Hudson River tunnels. Now that the local money is there for the first piece, let’s come together and get this done. 

Thank you so much for your time.