News Column

U.S. Senator Booker Announces Legislation Calling for Investments in Transportation Infrastructure

May 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, May 15 -- The office of Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., issued the following news release:

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) today announced legislation highlighting his policy priorities following hearings on transportation infrastructure and reauthorization in both the Environment and Public Works (EPW) and Commerce Committees.

"In order to advance New Jersey's stability and development, it is vital that we adopt policies that invest in our transportation infrastructure," Sen. Booker said. "These five measures collectively highlight the value of our ports, railways and roads. I am pleased that my amendment to improve air quality at ports was adopted into the larger transportation bill that came out of the EPW hearing today. As both the Commerce and EPW Committees examine transportation reauthorization, I am committed to ensuring New Jersey is prioritized in these discussions. This legislation will increase our economic competitiveness and fund necessary transportation projects to promote the safety, stability and economic strength of our state."

New Jersey alone has more than 38,000 miles of public roads, and nearly 1,000 miles of rail freight lines, connecting every corner of the state to consumers and networks throughout the region. Sixty-six percent of New Jersey's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. This costs New Jerseyans over $3 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs. The legislation introduced by Senator Booker supports the role infrastructure plays in driving our nation's economy.

Senator Booker's Five Legislative Measures

The Port Air Quality Improvement Act of 2014 This amendment was adopted as part of the base bill in the EPW Committee. It would reduce air pollution in the direct vicinity of U.S. ports by authorizing funding for projects that will reduce emissions and increase the efficient and safe flow of goods in and out of ports.

The Freight Priorities Act This bill takes an all-of-the-above approach to meeting our nation's freight transportation needs by prioritizing multi-modal freight investment, relieving the pressure on congested highways and making sure goods get where they need to go faster and cheaper. The bill adds ports to the freight planning process and includes a provision that allows the Secretary of Transportation to establish performance measures to evaluate the efficiency of a multi-modal freight network. The legislation establishes a pilot program to examine the unique needs and levels of congestion in urban areas.

Innovation in Surface Transportation The Innovation in Surface Transportation proposal, offered with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), would establish a competitive state-level grant program that would promote the funding of innovative, cost effective projects. The proposal requires each state to assemble a panel of stakeholders reflecting environmental, local and safety interests to review applications for federally funded transportation project grants.

The Local Empowerment Act This amendment would give regional and local communities additional resources and increased discretion to improve the outcomes of transportation policy decisions. In New Jersey, our Metropolitan Planning Organizations would receive more directly allocated federal funds.

The Toll Credit Transfer Act of 2014 This amendment would allow states the flexibility to sell and transfer unused or excess toll credits. New Jersey has excess toll credits, and this legislation would give the state the opportunity to sell its credits and bring in additional revenue to fund New Jersey transportation projects.

Across the United States, 65,000 bridges are classified as structurally deficient and 65 percent of America's major roads are rated in less than good condition. Americans spend 5.5 billion extra hours of travel time from traffic congestion annually, costing families $120 billion in fuel and lost time, and our businesses $27 billion in extra freight. According to a report by Facing our Future, a group of former New Jersey government executives, New Jersey needs at minimum $21.3 billion to invest in short-term transportation infrastructure needs through 2018.

Click here to view the EPW hearing.

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Source: Targeted News Service