New Jersey and New York sign funding agreement to advance Gateway Project

The agreement encompasses the first phase of the project including the Portal North Bridge and new Hudson River tunnel

A key agreement supporting the advancement of the Gateway Project to upgrade rail access has been reached between New Jersey and New York.

The agreement outlines how the states will pay for the first phase of the project, building a new rail bridge across the Hackensack River from Kearny to Secaucus on the way to New York City, the rehabilitation of the existing rail tunnel that runs beneath Weehawken across the Hudson River to Manhattan, and the construction of a new tunnel that would run beneath Hoboken across the river.

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The new bridge will replace the current 111-year-old Portal Bridge, a railroad bridge that spans 2.44 miles tracks, as well as the equally old Hudson River rail tunnel. The bridge often gets stuck in the upright position to allow for marine traffic, bringing rail commuters from New Jersey to New York City to a halt until it is fixed.

Additionally, the existing structural problems with the current tunnels, which also experience frequent delays, was exacerbated by flooding during Hurricane Sandy, underscoring the urgency of this infrastructure fix and the bridge project.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, have signed the Phase One Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) required by the Gateway Development Commission Act along with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Executive Director Rick Cotton. The move aims to solve major bottlenecks along the Northeast Corridor line of Amtrak through the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure as well as the construction of new infrastructure.

Phase One Gateway Projects

“Today marks a pivotal milestone toward the completion of the most significant transportation project not just in New Jersey, but in the entire United States,” said Murphy. “The Gateway Project reflects the importance of New Jersey’s regional partnerships and its alignment with the Biden administration’s infrastructure and transportation priorities. As we proceed with construction of a new tunnel under the Hudson River, we advance one step closer toward a New Jersey that is better connected and better positioned to reap the full economic benefits of our status as a regional crossroads. I thank Governor Hochul, as well as our Gateway Program partners, our respective federal and state delegations, and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their support in achieving this next great step.”

The MOU outlines sources, uses, and timing of funding on behalf of New Jersey and New York for Phase One Gateway Projects: Portal North Bridge and the Hudson Tunnel Project. Signing this MOU advances the Gateway Project to its next phase, which will detail the parties’ responsibilities with respect to delivery of the Hudson Tunnel Project and move forward in the federal project review.

“The Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project is vital to the Northeast corridor, and today’s announcement is a critical step forward in turning this vision into reality,” said Hochul. “By signing the Phase One Memorandum of Understanding, we are establishing the framework to get this project over the finish line and are making good on our promise to modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure and create a mass transit system worthy of New Yorkers. I thank my partner Governor Murphy, as well as our state and federal representatives, especially Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Biden Administration, for their tireless efforts on this transformative project.”

A map of the plans for a new rail tunnel across the Hudson River.

How it will be paid for

The approximately $14 billion Phase One of the Gateway Project, which overall is expected to total approximately $30 billion, is funded by a combination of federal and local sources. PANYNJ’s total commitment for Phase One is $2.7 billion.

For the $1.9 billion Portal North Bridge, federal funding sources total approximately 60 percent of the total cost or approximately $1.1 billion. That leaves the states’ commitment of $772.4 million to be split by New Jersey and New York at $386.2 million per state.

For the rest of the Hudson Tunnel Project, the states will similarly split the local share 50-50. The total cost of this project is estimated by officials to be approximately $12 billion, with the anticipation that 50 percent of that would be covered by federal grant funding.

The states intend to work with their partners and federal entities to aggressively pursue greater federal sources of funding for the Gateway Project through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“We appreciate the efforts of Governors Murphy and Hochul in moving this critical transportation project closer to the finish line,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “It is a project of enormous consequence for the many millions of riders who will benefit from it and it will be a significant driver of economic growth for the entire New Jersey-New York region.”

“The signing of this MOU marks an important step forward in making the nation’s most vital and impactful rail project a reality,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We are delighted to see real progress being made toward a better, more reliable travel experience for rail customers throughout our region.”

A rendering of the planned Portal North Bridge.

NJ officials applaud the advancement

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a long time advocate for the Gateway Project, praised the inking of the agreement between New Jersey and New York.

“This agreement between New Jersey and New York is a big step in moving the Gateway Project forward,” Menendez said. “I’m glad we have strong and committed leaders like Governor Murphy and Governor Hochul who recognize the infrastructural and economic importance of building a new Portal North Bridge and Hudson Tunnels, which will supercharge our regional and national economies and improve the quality of life for commuters in the area. I also appreciate the continued support of Chairman O’Toole, Executive Director Cotton, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The muscle and expertise of the Port Authority will be critical to completing Gateway in a timely manner, and I look forward to their partnership.”

Menendez praised federal funding from the Biden Administration for helping to bolster the infrastructure projects.

He continued: “I am proud that last year’s infrastructure bill provides the vital federal funding we need to get Gateway done, and I have fought adamantly against Republican obstructionists who have attempted to hamstring this critical infrastructure project. I will continue working with our state and federal leaders, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure the Gateway Project is completed and every commuter in the region has access to safe, reliable transportation.”

The aging infrastructure, clearly in need of repairs.

Finally moving forward

The agreement is hopefully a positive step in the right direction toward making the new Hudson River rail tunnel a reality, something that has been tripped up by politics in the past.

Former Governor Chris Christie famously cancelled the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project out of a concern that once begun to costs would expand.

While in 2015 Christie and former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a similar agreement to this new agreement between Murphy and Hochul, little progress had been regarding the project since then due to Trump Administration obstructionism.

This announcement was indicative of the entities involved in the project seeking to finalize federal funding while they still have the support from the Biden Administration and Democrats in Washington D.C., as the Trump Administration and Republicans had pumped the breaks on the project in the past.

“This agreement is a major step forward for Gateway,” said Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I’d told the governors of New York and New Jersey unless they came to an agreement quickly, we’d not be able to procure federal funds for the first round of funding.”

The agreement marks an important milestone to get the project fully funded by the end of the year. Construction of the tunnels is slated to begin at the start of 2023 officials estimate, lest there be any more major setbacks.

For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

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