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Portal Bridge Event: Who’s Who of Federal Government

Aug 03, 2022
NJ House of Representatives Portal Bridge Groundbreaking

At the Portal Bridge Groundbreaking ceremony in a parking lot in Kearny NJ with the 111-year-old Portal bridge as a backdrop, there was every House of Representative’s elected officials from New Jersey and top brass of Federal and State Transportation officials, State and Local elected officials, Trade Union brass, and the largest contingency of what is left of the Press core in New Jersey present.

The Portal Bridge remained on duty throughout the ceremony as NJ Transit trains traversed it throughout the event despite disparaging remarks being made about the 111-year bridge. President of NJ Transit Kevin Corbett disparaged the Portal Bridge because it required a rail crew to use sledgehammers to get some of the rails lined up after the bridge’s deck is moved to allow ships to pass underneath it.  One out of Seven times that occurs. You would think that the President of NJ Transit would pay a little more respect to the Portal Bridge that continued to function with the assistance of railroad professionals and their sledgehammers while the politicians and the railroad experts finally got their act together to build a replacement bridge.

At least Amtrak and NJ Transit who share the railroad line had the presence of mind to keep the name Portal Bridge and just add North to Portal Bridge, to name the new bridge the North Portal Bridge to distinguish the two.  What is disturbing is the statements like “torn down and replaced by a brand new bridge “ A saving grace are statements like “The old span will finally be retired”.

We can ask the Union Business Agents and Presidents of Construction Unions who attended the groundbreaking ceremony whether the bridge that their tradesman build will last 100 years or more specifically 116 years by the time the new North Portal Bridge is built. We bet they say NO. 

Today’s steel is not the Carnegie Steel the Portal Bridge was built of and/or the over-engineering of the Portal Bridge. How much would it cost to build an exact duplicate of the Portal Bridge today?  We dishonor those in the construction trade and the architects and engineers who built the original Portal bridge when we disparage it when it continues to perform as best as it can on a daily basis. Yes, it needs to be replaced but its been in service for a very long time and deserves words of respect not condemnation.

Where is the respect for a bridge that has waited to be replaced for such a long time? The Bridge should be rebuilt and serve as a National Monument to be cherished and not be torn down. It should be rehabilitated and used as a public space.  If the occasion occurs it could be the backup bridge for the new North Portal Bridge if it needs to be repaired or fails.  The United States of America mentality that new is better than old fills up our landfills and is simply bad policy.  New is not necessarily better than old.  How long did refrigerators from the ’50s, ’60s, or ;70’s last?  How long does a modern 2000’s refrigerator last?  Did your grandmother after her refrigerator stop cooling immediately go out to buy a new refrigerator or did she call the repair person to get it repaired?  Or did your grandmother ever call the repairman?  Take a minute to think about the last statement. New is not necessarily better.

Who’s Who of Elected & Government Officials

So here is a partial list of officials present at the North Portal Bridge groundbreaking as noted by Governor Phil Murphy.

Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez

Federal Rail Administrator Amit Bose


United States Senator Bob Menendez

United States  Senator Cory Booker


Congressman Bill Pascarell

Congressman Donald Payne

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill

Congressman Tom Malinowski

Congressman Josh Gottenheimer


President of NJ Transit, Kevin Corbett

New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin

New Jersey Transportation Committee Chairs, Senator Patrick Diegnan Jr. and Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson

Chairman of NJ Transit Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti

Amtrak Train Chairman Anthony "Tony" Coscia

CEO of Amtrak Steve J. Gardner

Gateway Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Kris Kolluri

Operating Engineers Local 825 Business Agent Greg Lalevee

President of Hudson County Central Labor Counsel Local 194 Barry Kushnir

Director of Liuna’s (Laborers’ International Union of North America) Steven Gardner

Vice President of Local 472 Labor Union Manuel Amador, Jr.

Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Bruce Garganio and Gino Zillochi

Mayor of Kearny Alberto Santos

First Lady (NJ) Tammy Synder Murphy

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Photo Credits: Amtrak,  Senator Bob Menendez Facebook Page