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.) – Today, Congressman Sires released the following statement following the President’s State of the Union Address last night:
“Last night, the President made a sweeping speech addressing a range of issues essential to the American public and called for greater unity in government. However, in his speech, he failed to present real achievable solutions that will bolster American security, prosperity, and well-being.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, a bill introduced by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) was passed by the House of Representatives and reported to the Senate for consideration. The bill, H.R. 543, requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide Congress with notice of when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity or commuter rail transit agency that serves their district, was debated and passed without objection.
Last week, I was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade by my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I visited the Hudson River Tunnel last Monday and worked with my colleagues in the New Jersey Congressional delegation to implore action on crucial infrastructure projects. Additionally, I voted to raise the pay of civilian federal employees, including those impacted by the shutdown, and sponsored legislation to address the crisis in Venezuela.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter from the New Jersey congressional delegation to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the Hudson Tunnel Project. The letter, which included 9 Members of the New Jersey delegation, urges the Secretary to move the Project forward and not allow long delays or government shutdowns to continue affecting this critical infrastructure plan.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement regarding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily halting flights into New York’s LaGuardia Airport and reports of severe delays at numerous other airports:
This week in Washington, I voted again to reopen the federal government, marking eight total different pieces of legislation I have supported to end the shutdown. Additionally, I introduced a bill to increase commuter safety and met with USAID officials to discuss foreign policy priorities.
(Washington, D.C.) – This week, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) introduced legislation to compel federal agencies to inform Members of Congress when a railroad or rail transit agency in their district is being investigated for safety violations.
This week in Washington, I voted again with my House colleagues to end the government shutdown. Additionally, I took steps to ensure that members of the Coast Guard, federal employees, and contractors who work with the federal government receive retroactive pay once this disruption has ended. Additionally, I met with international officials to advance discussions on U.S. foreign policy.
Last week in Washington, important issues were addressed from local transportation to national criminal justice reform. However, Congress must remain focused on resolving the partial government shutdown currently impacting hundreds of thousands of government workers.
(Washington, D.C.) – The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that New Jersey Transit has been awarded nearly $6,550,000 in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants for Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation. This grant money can be used by NJ Transit to finish its work of installing a critical safety technology helps that prevents train-to-train collisions and derailments like the 2016 accident that took one life and injured over one hundred people in Hoboken.