Menendez, Sires: Congress Must Pass a Transportation Bill that Keeps NJ, America Moving, Invests in Our Future

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Call for restoration of critical funding for NJT, Gateway tunnel project

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires (N.J.-08) today held a news conference at Newark Penn Station to urge Congress to pass a long-term transportation funding bill that adequately funds New Jersey’s and the nation’s critical transportation needs.  A House-Senate conference committee will be negotiating a final spending package this week ahead of Friday’s deadline.

The House bill includes a provision to strip at least $1.6 billion per year in federal funding under the 5340 High Density/Growing States transit formula to some of the most congested and transit dependent Urbanized Areas (UZAs) in the country, including the New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia metro areas.  New Jersey Transit (NJT) stands to lose an estimated $50 million a year toward its capital budget if the House funding formula remains part of the final transportation appropriations bill.  House Republicans instead voted to redirect these funds to a discretionary program for bus projects, largely in rural areas of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

“If this amendment becomes law, it would derail the prospects of bold infrastructure projects we so desperately need to maintain and improve our quality of life, create jobs, and grow our economy,” said Sen. Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate mass transit subcommittee.  “We’re not just talking about putting big projects like Gateway on hold—we’re talking about falling further behind on basic repairs and maintenance.  We’re talking about delays like the kind we saw this summer becoming the new normal.  That’s unacceptable for our transit riders, and it’s unacceptable to me.”

“While I am pleased that both House and Senate bills authorize highway, bridge, transportation safety, and public transit projects for six years, I am concerned with language contained in the House bill that would threaten crucial transit funds in New Jersey, said Rep. Sires, who sits on the House Transportation Committee and is a conferee to the House-Senate conference committee negotiating the final bill.  “During the conference I will advocate for the removal of the Herrera-Beutler amendment and fight to restore the estimated $1.6-$1.7 billion dollars back to the High Density Program.”

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