Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Wisnieski Calls for "Clean, Swift" Reauthorization of Federal Surface Transporation Bill
Letter to New Jersey's Congressional Delegation Cites Jobs, Economic Benefits of Transportation Funding and Requests Bi-Partisan Support
Sayreville, N.J. - Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), Chair of the New Jersey State Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee today called on New Jersey's Congressional delegation to provide bipartisan support for a swift and clean reauthorization of the Federal Surface Transportation bill.
"We all recognize that New Jersey's transportation infrastructure is vital to our state's economy," wrote Assemblyman Wisniewski. "New Jersey stands ready to leverage federal funding with state monies to invest in sorely needed projects, but without reliable and predictable federal support, planning for transportation improvements and shovel ready projects that can quickly put our people back to work will be delayed."
The existing federal Surface Transportation legislation expires at the end of September and Congress is finalizing proposed legislation to reauthorize federal funding for transportation projects across the country.
In his letter, Assemblyman Wisniewski cites studies that assessed the economic impact of transportation spending. "A 2008 study commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and conducted by the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University showed that transportation spending creates jobs in the construction industry, service industries, manufacturing and retail sectors. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that a shutdown of federal highway and transit programs would place at risk over 50,000 jobs in New Jersey and over 1.8 million jobs nationwide."
Among the priority projects in the state's transportation capital program that would likely be affected by any delay in reauthorization, Assemblyman Wisniewski cited $300 million for road and rail bridges including $24 million for the PATCO bridge to North Park Drive in Collingswood/Pennsauken; $230 million for train and bus replacement and $160 million for rail maintenance, which the Assemblyman cited as a particular concern in light of the damage to rail infrastructure from Hurricane Irene.
Among the road projects awaiting federal funding were $40 million for the Route 3 Passaic River crossing; $36 million for Route 80 Parsippany-Troy Hills roadway improvements; and $101 million for the Route 295/42/I-76 Direct Connection project.
Assemblyman Wisniewski expressed concern that the transportation bill could suffer the same fate as recent legislation to provide funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with delays that "cost our people jobs and income and increased economic insecurity in what are already fragile economic times." Earlier this summer, after much debate, Congress passed a temporary spending measure for FAA, which expires on September 16th.
In closing, Assemblyman Wisniewski asked New Jersey's congressional representatives to "join in a bipartisan effort with the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others to ensure that transportation projects that will enhance our infrastructure and put people back to work are not delayed."