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
This week in Washington, I officially reintroduced pieces of key legislation, voted on several critical bills, and was renamed to several Subcommittees in the 114th Congress.
I first reintroduced several important pieces of legislation that were not afforded the opportunity to come before the House of Representatives for a vote in the 113th Congress. I reintroduced six bills thus far including:
(Jersey City, N.J) – More than a dozen federal, state and local elected officials, as well as labor advocates, joined at a press conference today calling on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to withdraw their proposal to eliminate overnight PATH service.
Over the past two weeks in Washington, I participated in a subcommittee hearing and committee markup session for several important pieces of legislation, spoke with airline pilots about the aviation industry, reflected on the importance of Veterans Day, and attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Bayonne Fire Department’s new firehouse.
(Washington, D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires supported multiple bills brought before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, including a bill that would provide $7 billion for Amtrak over the next four years, including $1.88 billion to improve Amtrak routes that run through New Jersey in the Northeast Corridor.
(Washington, D.C.)- U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) and Congressmen Albio Sires (NJ-08) and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) today announced a $14,800,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to improve and expand facilities at Port Newark, create hundreds of jobs and enhance economic opportunities throughout the region.
(Washington, D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires voted for H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 367-55. The legislation would extend surface transportation programs authorized under current law through May 31, 2015, and would infuse $10.9 billion into the Highway Trust Fund.
ATLANTA – Like other cities, Atlanta is seeing an explosive interest in biking.
The city will soon launch its first bike share program. In April, the first of four bike-themed street festivals this year is expected to draw tens of thousands to the historic West End. Mayor Kasim Reed aims to double the number of bicycle-to-work commuters by 2016. And the state Department of Transportation recently got in on the act, adding protected bicycle lanes along Ponce de Leon Avenue.