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.
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
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8), along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressmen Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), all members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced the awarding of $13,321,545 from the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) to ensure NJ Transit can continue operations in rural parts of the state despite a significant drop-off in ridership and revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was secured by the lawmakers in the CARES Act that passed in March.
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement after the introduction of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) Act:
(Washington D.C.) - Today, Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08), along with Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) and Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging additional funding for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) in the final language of the next COVID-19 emergency assistance legislation. They were joined by 11 of their colleagues from the New Jersey Delegation of the House of Representatives.
This week, I worked on policies addressing immigration, Title IX, the National Guard, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I continue to work with my colleagues as the effects of this unprecedented global pandemic emerge.
We have raised our community’s 2020 Census self-response rate to 48.9%. But, we are still behind New Jersey at 61% and the country at 59%. Federal funding is allocated based on this data and times of crisis have revealed just how important this data is in our government’s emergency response.
This week, the House of Representatives considered a fourth stimulus package, H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act. I pushed for the inclusion of critical policies in this legislation as well as future packages considered by Congress.
Last week, our community’s 2020 Census self-response rate rose 3 points to 48.1% of the 8th District. This is encouraging, but we still have plenty of work to do to catch up with New Jersey at 59.4% and the country at 57.7%. Millions of dollars in federal funding depend on each of our timely responses.
Last week in Washington, the House voted on removing the deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment and expanding public land protections. I met with the New Jersey Fraternal Order of the Police, representatives of New Jersey community colleges, the NJ Clean Cities Coalition and Transportation Energy Partners, and more. I attended a House Budget Committee hearing and also chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s move to advance the Portal North Bridge Project: