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
This week in Washington, the House voted on legislation in response to the ongoing crisis in Syria. I asked the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation to investigate claims of conflict of interest in Secretary Chao’s office and spoke at Budget Committee Hearing on economic resiliency. I also welcomed the Elmora Youth Little League baseball team from Elizabeth, NJ to celebrate their trip to the Little League World Series.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) sent a letter along with 14 colleagues to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General’s Office asking for an investigation into possible conflicts of interest at DOT:
Last week in Washington, I met with local leaders in education, supported an impeachment inquiry and drew attention in Congress to our local transportation issues. I held a hearing on the Administration’s disastrous cuts to Latin America and attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee on our country’s relationship with the Indo-Pacific region.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced the awarding of several grants to New Jersey agencies and institutions.
These grants awards, which total nearly $774,000, are awarded to state agencies and institutions that are working on programs to ensure pipeline safety and train first responders on how to address situations where hazardous materials are present.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) joined New Jersey State officials and colleagues from the House of Representatives to speak on the importance of the Portal Bridge Project, and why the Trump Administration needs to help New Jersey move it forward.
NEWARK, N.J. – Congressman Albio Sires (N.J.-08) along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, the Ranking Member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, and Cory Booker today announced the awarding of $5,900,000 to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) to make upgrades and improvements to the ferry docks at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ) located at Liberty State Park. The updates will increase dock space to six docking points for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferries.
(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement regarding the House of Representatives passing an appropriations bill that will help transportation and infrastructure issues in New Jersey:
Last week in Washington, the House passed the first appropriation bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to provide a secure, prosperous future for the American people. I convened with all three committees I sit on to tackle issues ranging from transit workforce safety to the current state of poverty in America.
Last week in Washington, Congress considered the first appropriations package to fund our nation’s government through fiscal year (FY) 2020. I attended the rededication of the Bayonne Bridge, sent a letter to Secretary Chao about the Gateway Project, and met with a New Jersey family to discuss bus safety legislation.
(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) led a letter from the New Jersey Delegation in the House of Representatives to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao regarding infrastructure project grant applications. The letter asks after projects which have received funding from DOT in the past three years after being previously denied funding, and what the projects did to receive a DOT award.