Transportation touches every facet of our lives. If any part of the transportation system breaks down, we feel the impact immediately. Investment in our transportation modes is vital to enhancing our economy, increasing our safety, maintaining our global competitiveness, and most importantly improving our quality of life. Through my work on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am actively working on transportation issues that are important to the 8th District.
Surface Transportation Bill
On December 3, 2015, I joined my colleagues in the House in passing legislation to authorize surface transportation programs that was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs.
Freight and Moving Goods
New Jersey’s economy depends largely on our ability to effectively and efficiently move goods. More than 269,000, or approximately 1 in 8, jobs in the state are directly affected by the goods movement industry, which includes the shipping of everything from food and clothing to cars and industrial supplies. More efficient goods movement enhances our ability to move on the roads, decreases harmful environmental effects, and minimizes damage to our infrastructure.
The Department of Transportation estimates that freight tons transported are expected to double by 2035, and this increase will lead to increased congestion on our nation’s already overburdened highways, railways, airports, and ports.
The FAST Act included an average $1.2 billion per year for a new National Highway Freight Program and established a discretionary competitive grant program of $4.5 billion over five years to provide financial assistance to nationally and regionally significant highway, rail, port, and intermodal freight and highway projects. As New Jersey’s freight capabilities continue to expand with projects like the deepening of the Port of New York and New Jersey and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, I will continue to advocate for dedicated funding streams to assist large multimodal freight projects.
The aviation industry is a crucial sector of the United States economy. Commercial aviation is responsible for roughly five percent of our gross domestic product and contributes roughly eleven million American jobs to our economy.
The 8th District of New Jersey is home to part of Newark Liberty International Airport, the nation’s oldest airfield and home to the nation’s first commercial airline terminal. The airport employs 20,000 people and contributes around $22.9 billion in economic activity to the New Jersey- New York region.
It is important that the concerns of pilots, airport employees, and passengers are addressed in aviation legislation. As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration in the 115th Congress, I will work with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to ensure that the concerns of the people of New Jersey are heard.
New Jersey is located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC), the nation’s busiest rail line that connects Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. The NEC is at or near capacity at many locations, and much of its infrastructure is outdated and in need of upgrades. The only intercity passenger rail crossing that connects New Jersey to Manhattan is over 100 years old and operates at 95 percent capacity at rush hour which creates a bottleneck that limits train volume across the whole NEC.
The Gateway Program is a comprehensive package of strategic investments on the NEC to improve current Amtrak service and allow for greater passenger capacity. Gateway will increase track, tunnel, bridge, and station capacity, and eventually create four mainline tracks between Newark, New Jersey, and Penn Station, New York. The target completion is 2030. Many residents of the 8th District rely on Amtrak for passenger rail and will benefit from improving the NEC. As a Member of the House Subcommittee on Railroads and Pipelines, I will monitor this project as it moves forward.
More on Transportation
(Washington, D.C.)- Congressman Sires and Congressman Payne, Jr. sent a letter signed by 14 additional Members of Congress to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging greater federal attention to address poor air quality issues caused by air pollution from ports and other components of the freight transportation system. Vulnerable communities concentrated in the vicinity of ports and congested freight infrastructure are exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution.
(Washington, D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires praised the announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation of a discretionary grant to NJ Transit for the Hoboken Boiler and Terminal Repairs Project. The funding was awarded through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Program that helps States and public transportation systems pay for protecting, repairing, and replacing equipment and facilities that may have incurred serious damages as a result of an emergency including natural disasters.
(Washington, D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires voted in favor of H.R. 4937, the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 in a Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure markup. The legislation authorizes $696 million over four years for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety program, including $211 million in grants to States.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sires issued the following statement expressing disappointment over the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s decision to tentatively grant Norwegian Air International (NAI) the right to fly to the United States.
Representing the 8th District in Washington this week, I completed Foreign Affairs Committee work, held several meetings, and attended a markup and a hearing as part of my work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.