KEARNY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- President Joe Biden was in New Jersey on Monday rallying support for his "Build Back Better" plan. He attended the groundbreaking of the new Portal North Bridge, part of the Gateway Project that has faced years of delays.
"Today, we are moving forward on a new bridge that will be higher over the water, so it won't need to open and close, allow us to increase speed, safety, efficiency, and capacity. This is going to make life a lot better for New Jersey's commuters," Biden said.
The Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River between Newark and Penn Station is known as a choke point. The outdated swing bridge often gets stuck causing massive delays on the Northeast Corridor. The replacement, the Portal North Bridge, will have two tracks on the 2 1/2-mile span that will run 50 feet above the river, allowing boats to pass underneath freely, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.
"The delays aren't just counted in minutes or hours lost in time that should be spent with one's family, although they are, but also in millions of dollars of economic activity," Gov. Phil Murphy said.
New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said construction is set to officially begin this spring, with an estimated timeline of four years for completion of the new bridge.
"It will give people a reliable trip. It will allow the Coast Guard to do what it normally does," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.
The Portal Bridge was built 110 years ago when William Taft was president. Biden said it's time to move forward.
"It's an impediment, impediment to America's global competitiveness," Biden said.
More than 200,000 people commute along the route each day.
"It has more than served its times and its purpose. Now it is time for us to give our region the modern, safe and reliable infrastructure that a 21st century economy demands, and that's exactly what the entirety of the Gateway program will do," Murphy said.
The project will create more than 8,000 construction jobs. The investment in rail goes hand in hand with President Biden's focus on the environment.
"It's about to make rail transportation, which is a cleaner, greener way to travel, the better choice. Let's get to work!" Biden said.
The message is relief is on the way, a better quality of life for commuters in the near future.
Biden's $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill includes at least $12.3 billion for New Jersey.
CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.
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