Gov. Murphy, Sen. Menendez, Others Say If A Tunnel Or Portal Bridge Were To Go Out, Big Part Of New York/New Jersey Area Would Be Crippled

SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Garden State lawmakers are calling on the White House to help fund the Gateway Tunnel Project.

They’re calling the project a critical priority, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Tuesday.

Traveling into New York City via a tunnel or the Portal Bridge has become a game of transit roulette, and Sen. Robert Menendez says there is no more time to waste, reiterating the Gateway project must get started.

“The reality is without Gateway it would cost $100 million per day, it’s a disaster for workers, economy and air quality,” Menendez said.

Portal Bridge (Photo: CBS2)

Added Gateway Tunnel trustee Jerry Zaro, “Gateway is being held political hostage in Washington.”

With no substantive plan coming out of the news conference, CBS2 asked Bob Hugin, the Republican challenger for Senate, what he would do to get this moving. He did not offer a plan, but criticized Menendez for playing partisan politics. Last month, he said New Jersey doesn’t get its share.

“We get the least back from Washington as a percentage of what we send there than any state in the country,” Hugin said.

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New Jersey has already committed $600 million to the project.

“We were asked by the federal government to put more skin in the game and we did and then some,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

The Portal Bridge was built in 1910 and more than 200,000 passengers travel over it each day. The Amtrak-owned span over the Hackensack River often gets stuck in the upright position, causing major delays on the rails.

“Our present antiquated tunnel, which you’ve heard is 110 years old and was built during and was built during the administration of President Roosevelt — Teddy Roosevelt,” Zaro said. “Or, for further context, it was built at the time the Titanic was under construction and we pray that the tunnel doesn’t suffer a similar fate.”

If a tunnel or the Portal Bridge were to go out, project supporters warn of permanent job loss, which would be a devastating blow to residential and commercial real estate and would cause gridlock conditions both in New Jersey and New York.

Murphy his administration is also exploring private sector opportunities for funding.