New Jersey governor Phil Murphy’s 2021 budget address last week was called “Building on Our Progress,” There wasn’t a lot of literal building highlighted in the speech outlining his administration’s priorities in the FY2021 budget, but he did mention a couple of construction related priorities.
First and foremost is the Portal Bridge. Of course, the Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge projects have been a huge source of conversation and controversy. The desperately needed repairs and new tunnel require federal funding that is being withheld by the Trump administration. But in February, the Federal Transit Administration raised the rating on the portal bridge replacement project to “medium-high,” making it eligible for federal funding. Of course, there are still hurdles to clear. A grant needs to be approved and a check written, but it looks like the rating will pave the way for that to happen. And that is definitely good news.
“With the federal government’s long-awaited green-lighting of the Portal Bridge replacement, we are finally moving forward in alleviating one of NJ TRANSIT’s commuters’ other headaches – wondering if a cranky, obsolete, century-old bridge is going to hold it together for another day,” Murphy said in his address.
He called it a “big victory” not only for commuters but “the building trades” and a “state whose economic lifeblood can only flow with modern infrastructure.”
Murphy, though, didn’t miss the opportunity to note the larger project that still needs to be approved.
“The Portal Bridge is just one part of a much larger project,” he said. “One new span doesn’t in any way eliminate the need for new tunnels under the Hudson and it in no way signals our retreat in the fight to get Gateway done.”
The other construction priority set by Murphy centered on affordable housing, as he noted the budget allocates at least $60 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to support NJ municipalities in developing affordable housing in their area.