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Transportation

The transportation infrastructure networks that serve our country are having a hard time keeping up with service demands. More people are driving or using public transportation, but states have less money to repair and upgrade this infrastructure. Our congressional district is not an exception and we have all struggled with old bridges, late trains, and potholed roads.

As a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, I have worked to authorize programs that allow New Jersey to tap into federal money for infrastructure projects. The federal government has a responsibility to help states that need assistance financing upgrades, and I continuously work to increase funding for grant programs that cities can use to finance big infrastructure upgrades projects.

Federal Work

The federal government has an important role in helping states finance big transportation projects that benefit large swaths of the country through the movements of goods and people. There are many projects around the country – bridge upgrades, commuter rail maintenance, and road repair – which cannot be finished without a helping hand from Congress.

This Congress, I introduced:

  • H.R. 543, a bill which requires the Federal Railroad Administration to inform Members of Congress when it is conducting a safety audit of a railroad within a Member’s district. This bill was passed the House of Representatives unanimously on February 6, 2019 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.

I have co-sponsored numerous infrastructure bills including:

  • H.R. 180, the Build America Act of 2019, directing the Department of Transportation to carry out a national infrastructure investment grant program for big investments in transportation infrastructure.
  • H.R. 1428, the Transportation Infrastructure for Job Creation Act, providing an additional $7.5 billion for national infrastructure investments under an existing Department of Transportation grant program.
  • I supported S. 1689, a bill to help states facing water-related public health threats access federal funds for projects that remove lead from drinking water. This bill was passed by the House and Senate and was signed into law by the President on October 4, 2019.

The Gateway Project

The most important, and complex, infrastructure network on the east coast is in our District. The tunnels and rail lines that connect New Jersey and New York are over 100 years old and were battered during Superstorm Sandy. They are in operation today, used to move freight and passengers throughout the region, but they are in desperate need of repair. Without federal government help, state authorities will be forced to shut them down for emergency maintenance or a tunnel could become unuseable - reducing the capacity by up to 75 percent. The Gateway Project is a massive undertaking to protect the economic viability of the region that includes repairing and upgrading these tunnels that tens of thousands of commuters travel through each day as they go in and out of Manhattan. 

New Jersey cannot finance the project by itself, and it should not have to. As a Member of Congress, I have consistently pushed the Department of Transportation to move the Gateway Project’s federal grant application through the Department’s project review process. Repairing and expanding these tunnels will impact anyone who commutes in the northeastern United States or travels by rail along the entire east coast. We cannot afford to play politics with something this important.

Aviation and Ports

The aviation industry is an important sector of our economy and commercial aviation employs thousands of people around the country. Our congressional district is home to part of Newark Liberty International Airport employs 22,000 people, serves 50 airline carriers, and generates $33 billion in economic activity.

This Congress, I have supported legislation that authorizes airline safety programs, pays federal airline employees in case of a government shutdown, and requires training for airline crew members to identify and address fume events onboard aircraft. I will continue my work in the 166th Congress to ensure that our airports have the resources they need to serve my constituents and our airlines have the tools they need to keep passengers safe.

Our district is also home to ports that serve as a throughway for products coming into our country and goods being sold abroad. I have supported legislative efforts to increase funding for grants and loans programs that our ports can draw from for upgrades and repair projects that keep our district competitive.

Transportation and the infrastructure necessary to keep it up impacts our everyday lives. If any one of our nation’s transportation infrastructure network breaks down, Americans immediately feel the impact - especially residents of New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. That is why I have worked so hard to provide our States and cities with the federal funds they need to maintain current infrastructure networks, expand current infrastructure, and build new projects to meet the needs of growing cities and expanding economies.

 

 

More on Transportation

Apr 8, 2014
(Washington, D.C.) - Last week, Congressman Sires wrote a letter to House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Energy and Water Chairman Mike Simpson and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur requesting the Committee allocate $50 million to the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program for alternative fuel deployment activities. He additionally asked that $25 million of the request be put towards competitive grants that support innovative alternative fuel and vehicle deployment strategies.
Mar 26, 2014
The Temecula City Council this week could vote to support legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would create a low-interest, long-term loan program to help communities build biking and walking networks.
Mar 4, 2014

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.

Feb 11, 2014
As cycling to work becomes more popular, it also is getting more dangerous — and a lawmaker is proposing to address the problem by dedicating new funding for construction of infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Jan 31, 2014

Thank you for reading this edition of my Washington Review. This week I reflected upon the President’s State of the Union address, introduced two new pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives, and worked with my colleagues in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to mark up a bill to bring to the floor for a vote.

Jan 29, 2014
(Washington D.C.) - Today, Congressman Sires introduced the New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act of 2014. Modeled after the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), this bipartisan legislation will allow communities to take advantage of low-cost financing for projects that make our streets and sidewalks safer for all users. This proven model has demonstrated that each dollar of federal financing can provide up to $10 in credit assistance and leverage an additional $30 in private or other public sector funding. Most importantly, by using existing federal transportation funds, this program will not create a single dollar of new government spending.
Jan 28, 2014
(Washington D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires questioned witnesses at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing as to how the federal government can make our roads safer for all users. The hearing, entitled, “Improving the Effectiveness of the Federal Surface Transportation Safety Grant Programs”, focused broadly on gains in highway safety and the important role the federal government has played in reducing roadway fatalities. However, Congressman Sires pointed out that while traffic fatalities have shown a downward trend, bicycle, pedestrian, and motorcycle deaths have increased sharply.

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