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President Joe Biden Visits New Jersey To Push Infrastructure Plan, Including Portal Bridge Construction

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- President Joe Biden visited New Jersey on Monday to push his infrastructure plan.

The president was in Kearny, as construction of a railroad bridge aimed to ease congestion kicked off, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

AMTRAK and NJ TRANSIT riders have all had to deal with it: the Portal Bridge getting stuck in the open position and delaying commuters. Biden came to promote his plans for infrastructure and preschool, and also arrived just a week ahead of Gov. Phil Murphy's bid for re-election.

The Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River was built 110 years ago, and so many commuters say they've grown old waiting for it to operate properly.

"A lot of times, the trains get caught up, and, you know, that has people delayed on where they're supposed to be. It causes a big problem, so if they can implement something that can speed up the process, that'd be great," commuter Kevin Jordan said.

"Anything from the federal level or the state level to improve our infrastructure would be, I think, so transformational, and it's not talked about enough, because it's so fundamental," commuter Alex Leurendi added.

And so now a new Portal Bridge will be built, as part of the Gateway Project, a huge infrastructure program designed to ease the never-ending congestion along the Northeast Corridor.

"For upwards of 200,000 daily riders, whether they be on AMTRAK or NJ TRANSIT, the approach to the Portal Bridge often comes with crossing of the fingers, a deep breath, and maybe a short prayer that the span will be operational," Murphy said.

Biden was in New Jersey for the symbolic groundbreaking on the bridge, and to promote his infrastructure bill.

"We're gonna make the largest investment in public transportation in the history of America, replacing transit vehicles that are passed their useful life," Biden said.

The president also visited East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, where the kids seem so focused on their tasks they barely seemed moved by the presidential visit. Biden is promoting his plan to expand pre-K across the country.

"We'll make two years high quality pre-school available to every child in America," the president said.

The new bridge will be built next to the existing structure and some trains could begin running across the new span by November 2025. It will be built some 50 feet above the river, high enough so it does not open or close.

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