RELEASE: Gottheimer Outlines How Bipartisan Infrastructure Package Will Repair & Improve New Jersey Public Transit, Commute Times

Helping North Jersey workers & families Fix ailing bridges, roads, tunnels, water Boost jobs & local economy

 

Above: Gottheimer at the Glen Rock Main Line Train Station today, with NJ State Assemblywoman Lisa Swain.

GLEN ROCK, NJ — Today, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer highlighted how the bipartisan infrastructure framework will invest in repairing and improving New Jersey public transit — as well as roads, bridges, water, broadband, and tunnels — to help improve commutes for North Jersey residents. The bipartisan infrastructure package has been agreed to by the White House and a bipartisan group of Senators, and has been formally endorsed by the House Problem Solvers Caucus, which Gottheimer co-chairs. The Problem Solvers Caucus has called for the package to be brought to the House for a vote.

Currently, New Jersey’s public transit trains are ranked the worst in the nation; New Jersey residents who take public transit spend an extra 82.7% of their time commuting; 22% of trains and other transit vehicles in New Jersey are past useful life; New Jersey has the third worst roads in the nation; New Jersey commute times have increased by 8.8% since 2011; more than 500 bridges in New Jersey are currently rated as deficient; a third of New Jersey’s bridges need repairs; more than 3,995 miles of New Jersey’s highways are in poor condition; and the Gateway Project has been stalled for years. 

On average, each New Jersey driver pays $713 per year in costs and repairs to their vehicles, due to driving on damaged roads.

“Even before the pandemic, because of outdated technology and train cars and tracks in need of repair, NJ Transit often couldn’t deliver, and far too often, commuters sat delayed, watching the minutes go by getting to work or getting home,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Thankfully, in Washington, there is a bipartisan infrastructure deal — with bicameral support — on the table now, with the backing of the White House, which includes critical investment in New Jersey’s transit system — from the rails and train cars to the Gateway Tunnel. And it’s time to bring it up for a standalone vote, without any delays.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will:

  • Invest more than $312 billion to transform our nation’s transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including investing $110 billion in roads, bridges, and major projects. 
  • Modernize public transit with a nationwide investment of $48.5 billion, as well as a $66 billion investment in passenger and freight rail — the largest federal investment in public transit in history and the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.
  • Create good-paying jobs and boost economic growth throughout New Jersey and the region.

The bipartisan infrastructure agreement also includes critical investments like $47 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from natural disasters; $55 billion to ensure clean, safe drinking water and completely eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes; the largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history; and $65 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband internet coverage to every family in America.

Watch the press conference HERE.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

I’m here today with Assemblywoman Lisa Swain — standing outside the Glen Rock Main Line Train Station — where thousands of hardworking New Jersey residents normally get on NJ Transit every morning and commute to New York City or to work somewhere else in Northern Jersey. At night, they get back on the train and hope to get home in time to sit with their family for dinner or put the kids to bed. 

Even before the pandemic, because of outdated technology and train cars and tracks in need of repair, NJ Transit often couldn’t deliver, and far too often, commuters sat delayed, watching the minutes go by getting to work or getting home. These delays sapped productivity in the morning by being late to work – and put a lot of sad faces on parents racing home in the evening, when folks can’t tuck in their kids. In fact, it’s often the reason many young families tell me they won’t move to Jersey. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, when everything had to shut down and people stopped taking public transit to work, things got even worse.

Statistically, it’s not a great story: New Jersey Transit – the rails -- continues to be ranked the worst on-time in the nation, and one of the most expensive. For Jersey to compete, to attract families and businesses, and for America to win in the global marketplace, we must turn this around. China spent $3 trillion dollars on infrastructure outside of their country last year – and we’re here putting bubble gum and scotch tape on our bridges to keep them from crumbling.

Thankfully, in Washington, there is a bipartisan infrastructure deal — with bicameral support — on the table now, with the backing of the White House, which includes critical investment in New Jersey’s transit system – from the rails and train cars to the Gateway Tunnel. And it’s time to bring it up for a standalone vote, without any delays. 

This is great news because the bottom line is: we can’t afford to wait any longer. In all, this is the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower began the Interstate Highway System. 

I’m here today to highlight how the bipartisan infrastructure deal will help New Jersey and our transit systems, including rails like these and beyond, and how it will greatly improve the lives of our commuters. We must get this done. We simply have no other choice.

Here are the facts:

We know our infrastructure here in New Jersey is crumbling.

New Jersey has the third worst roads in the nation.

More than 500 bridges in New Jersey are currently rated as deficient.

More than 3,995 miles of New Jersey’s highways are in poor condition.

The Gateway Project – the 113-year-old tunnels our trains and 20 percent of our nation’s GDP go through every day -- has been stalled for years.

Lead water continues to threaten New Jersey children’s drinking water in our schools; and many rural New Jersey residents in my District and beyond do not have the basic broadband connectivity to participate and compete in the 21st century economy.

Worst of all, for the workforce here in Northern New Jersey, New Jersey’s public transit trains are ranked the worst in the nation.

Since 2011, New Jersey commute times have increased by 8.8%.

On average, each driver pays $713 per year in costs and repairs to their vehicles, from driving on damaged roads that need to be fixed.

New Jersey residents who take public transit spend an extra 82.7% of their time commuting, and 22% of trains and other transit vehicles in the Garden State are past useful life.

And we know that NJ Transit has a five-year wish-list of capital projects, that it’s already short $5.8 billion to be able to pay for.

We’ve tried to fix many of these issues in Congress — but, despite the multiple bills I’ve sponsored and passed in the House, the bipartisan work we’ve done in the Problem Solvers Caucus and beyond, partisan gridlock has always swallowed up progress on fixing our nation’s infrastructure time and again.

But, now, there’s some hope on the horizon.

For the past several months, we in the House Problem Solvers Caucus, which I’m proud to co-chair, have been in close talks with our bipartisan G-20 partners in the Senate. A few weeks ago, the Problem Solvers Caucus put forth the first bipartisan section-by-section infrastructure framework: defining the scope of a major infrastructure package that could gain support from both Democrats and Republicans. Then, closely in line with our framework, a bipartisan group in the Senate finally came to a deal with the White House.

Now, the Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed this bipartisan deal — meaning there’s support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate to get this done — and we’re pushing for a vote on this package ASAP.

Here’s how it will help New Jersey’s transit and our commuters, across North Jersey and around the state:

The full bipartisan deal devotes more than $312 billion to transform our nation’s transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects, many right here in Jersey. 

That means our commuters who are driving in will be spending less on repairs to their own cars due to bad roads.

The bipartisan deal will also modernize public transit with a nationwide $48.5 billion investment and invest $66 billion in passenger and freight rail — which is the largest federal investment in public transit in history and it’s the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.

That means that Amtrak, NJ Transit, and our region’s public transportation and light rail options will finally have the federal investment they need to improve for the 21st century — and get our workforce to and from work on time, and back home safely.

Overall, our bipartisan infrastructure framework will make life better for millions of New Jersey families and our incredible workforce, it will create good-paying jobs and critical economic growth across New Jersey and our region, and it will position Jersey and our nation to succeed in the 21st century.

This investment will modernize our public transit, finally improve our roads and bridges and get Gateway back on track, and make our infrastructure and transit resilient for future use — all while greatly enhancing the lives of all our commuters — which is a win-win-win for North Jersey.

This is on top of the other critical investments in this bipartisan deal, including: resources to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster; $55 billion to ensure clean, safe drinking water and completely eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes which directly impacts our children in schools; the largest investment in clean energy transmission and electric vehicle chargers in American history; and $65 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband internet coverage to every family in America, including in Sussex and Warren Counties in my District.

This will help our economy in the short- and long-term, and it will help it operate more efficiently. Studies even show that public investment in infrastructure also leads to productivity growth in the private sector. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a single dollar in infrastructure can have as much as a $2.50 impact on our GDP. That’s a real return on investment.

This bipartisan infrastructure agreement is on top of the seven key Fifth District transportation and transit priorities I fought for — submitted from our local governments — that were just passed in the House’s bipartisan INVEST in America Act earlier this month — moving these projects closer to being signed into law and becoming a reality. They include a Mobility Improvement Project in Hackettstown, new overpass and bridge projects in Teaneck, Oakland, and Passaic; rail upgrades in Sussex County, and projects in West Milford and in Andover.

The bottom line is: you can’t have a first-rate state — like I know New Jersey is — with second-class infrastructure.

We need to invest in New Jersey’s infrastructure — on a bipartisan basis; improve and repair our public transit; claw back federal tax dollars to Jersey to improve NJ Transit and local commute times; and ensure our workforce can safely get to work and back home to their families. All of this can be done while boosting up our region’s economy at a critical time.

Now, it’s time for leadership in Washington to bring this bipartisan package to a vote in Congress – unencumbered – so the President can sign it into law and we can finally deliver this vital investment for North Jersey and the nation.

By working together, from both sides of the aisle, here in Jersey and in Washington, I believe we can get this done, in the greatest country in the world, so that our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you and God bless.

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