Monday rail news in brief:
Portal Bridge project advances with commitment for federal funding
The project to replace New Jersey’s infamous Portal Bridge has received a Federal Transit Administration commitment to fund nearly half the project, state officials said Friday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter that the bridge will “enter into its engineering phase with FULL federal funding.” NorthJersey.com reports that, in a letter to NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett, the FTA said it had elevated the $1.8 billion project to the engineering phase, making it eligible for $766.5 million in federal funding. The letter also said NJ Transit must submit a revised financial plan and demonstrate the ability to cover a cost increase or funding shortfall. The state and Amtrak have already committed to funding shares of the project. The announcement comes a week after Murphy met with President Donald Trump, after which Trump tweeted that he had given the project “authorization to proceed” [see “Caltrain to increase service beginning Monday,” News Wire Digest, June 13, 2020]. Mechanical problems with the more than century-old bridge have sometimes led to significant delays for NJ Transit and Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak chooses firm to lead redevelopment of 30th Street Station
Amtrak has chosen the North American affiliate of Australia infrastructure investment firm the Plenary Group to lead the redevelopment of Philadephila’s 30th Street Station, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In a news release, Amtrak said the Plenary team, which also includes Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island, was chosen based on its proposal and “successful record of project delivery, extensive experience with complex mixed-use properties and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.” Negotiations are now underway on financial terms for the project, which is meant to be part of a larger effort, the 30th Street Station District Plan, which would involve long-term redevelopment of 175 acres around the station.
SMART will build second Petaluma station, funded with property sale
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit will build a second station in Petaluma, Calif., funding the project by selling off property in downtown Petaluma. Patch.com reports SMART will sell the 4.48-acre property for $8 million, with the SMART board of directors approving the use of that money for design and construction of a station and Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard in the northern part of the community.