Above: Gottheimer beneath the Route 4 Hackensack River Bridge that connects Teaneck and Hackensack — one of New Jersey’s many crumbling, structurally deficient bridges.
TEANECK, NJ — Today, November 12, 2021, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with local North Jersey labor leaders, business leaders, and officials to highlight how the recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will help fix North Jersey bridges, tunnels, and roads — at a crumbling, structurally-deficient Teaneck bridge that has needed investment for years. Gottheimer recently helped lead the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in the House, to send the historic legislation to the President’s desk.
New Jersey has the third worst roads in the nation, as of 2020, and hundreds of New Jersey bridges are currently rated as deficient.
Gottheimer was joined today by New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Bracken, Bergen County Commissioner and President of IBEW Local 164 Tom Sullivan, Greg Lalevee of IUOE Local 825, Teaneck Mayor Jim Dunleavy, members of Labor International Union of North American (LiUNA), local leaders, and many hardworking women and men of labor.
“For everyone who has ever hit a pothole, been stuck on a train, spent too much time commuting, or worried about the water their children are drinking, this Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a game changer. It is an investment that New Jersey needs, badly. I heard you loud and clear — you wanted action. Today, we are delivering,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Over the last months, Democrats and Republicans came together, working with the President, crafted, and passed the greatest infrastructure investment in a century. It is a great example of how our government is supposed to work: coming together, across party lines, to get things done for our families and small businesses.”
“We have an infrastructure in New Jersey that not only is in disrepair and needs to be modernized, but many years ago, the dean of infrastructure in New Jersey, Bob Rowe, said to me that the infrastructure in New Jersey is the foundation of our economy. Our infrastructure needs a lot of work, we are in an economic crisis because of COVID. Those two things together are not good,” said NJ Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Bracken. “We now have an infrastructure bill that has been passed by Congress, will be signed by the President on Monday, and for us in New Jersey, $12 billion and the jobs it will create. The economic boost will be enormous. This is great for New Jersey. Not only was Josh Gottheimer instrumental in getting this passed, but based on my conversations with many people in Washington and those in the Chamber of Commerce, he was the person who got it passed. His leadership is unbelievable.”
“For far too long, we haven’t taken care of our bridges, roads, and infrastructure. We’re going to be putting people to work at jobs that let people go home and feed their families, send their children to college, and have a great education. This bill puts hard-working people to work at a middle-class wage and allows them to raise a family,” said Bergen County Commissioner and President of IBEW Local 164 Tom Sullivan. “Congressman Gottheimer, we had many long nights on the phone and in the union hall, and you never wavered. Everyone in the state of New Jersey should take notice of what you did, not just the building trades, but everyone in this state.”
“We stood [here] last April where we were highlighting the need for infrastructure repair, not only here in Bergen County, but throughout the country. But today, I’m happy to be able to say, our Congressman played a pivotal, pivotal role in getting the job done that we all needed very, very much,” added Teaneck Mayor Jim Dunleavy. “It will mean a lot to us and a lot to my colleagues across Bergen County who have a sore need to get this done.”
“The Operating Engineers look to the future with a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm over this infrastructure bill. Historic investments in our roads, bridges, transit, airports, ports, broadband. The possibility that Amtrak will finally realize the Hudson River Rail Tunnels, and we’ll see the groundbreaking on the Portal North Bridge very soon,” said Greg Lalevee of IUOE Local 825. “World class infrastructure improves our regional economy and our national economy and our global competitiveness. We look forward to training the next generation of blue-collar, well-paid workers to go out and execute on these projects. We wouldn’t be standing here without the hard work of Congressman Josh Gottheimer.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will be signed into law by President Biden this coming Monday, November 15, and will make unprecedented investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, and mass transit — including major investment for New Jersey. It will finally get the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey built. It infuses the largest investment in bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system, and commits unmatched resources to storm resiliency, electric vehicle infrastructure, clean drinking water, and reliable high-speed internet.
Watch the press conference here.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
We are here today to celebrate a major bipartisan win for our country and for hardworkingNew Jersey families — a victory for pragmatic problem solving, for common sense, and for helping our middle class moms and dads. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is an historic, once-in-a-century investment in repairing and improving our infrastructure: our roads, bridges, rails, NJ Transit, storm resilience, water systems, broadband connectivity, electric vehicle chargers, and so much more.
Over the last months, Democrats and Republicans came together, working with the President, crafted, and passed the greatest infrastructure investment in a century. It is a great example of how our government is supposed to work: coming together, across party lines, to get things done for our families and small businesses.
For everyone who has ever hit a pothole, been stuck on a train, spent too much time commuting, or worried about the water their children are drinking, this Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a game changer. It is an investment that New Jersey needs, badly. I heard you loud and clear — you wanted action. Today, we are delivering.
In Jersey, we have the third worst roads in the nation; people are spending, on average, $700 a year to fix damage to their cars from potholes and other road issues.
More than 500 of our state’s bridges are structurally deficient — a third are in desperate need of repair.
In fact, years ago, and then back in April, many of us were at this very location beneath the Route 4, Hackensack River Bridge that connects Teaneck and Hackensack, advocating for major infrastructure investments — because, currently, this bridge on Route 4 is one of many in our community that is rated as “structurally deficient,” meaning that key elements of the bridge are considered to be in “poor” or worse condition.
The bridge was constructed in 1931 and pre-dates Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election to the White House. Just think about that for a second: the bridge predates FDR, who 95% of us have only read about in the history books. Clearly, this bridge needs to be put into the history books as well. And now, it can be.
It’s not just bridges that are desperate for repair.
Parents are late to work in the morning and miss bedtime in the evening.
NJ Transit has been ranked the worst in the nation, causing endless delays. Part of the delay is the back up of trains stuck outside New York’s Penn Station. A key reason for the delay — the existing train tunnels under the Hudson River, connecting 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, are 113 years old and crumbling. We need new tunnels — we need Gateway.
New Jersey residents who take public transit spend an extra 82.7% of their time commuting.
On top of all this, there’s still lead in our children’s drinking water in schools; and many rural New Jersey families, including far too many in Sussex and Warren Counties, do not have basic broadband connectivity to connect to school, work, or a doctor’s appointment.
Our ports are backed up by infrastructure that should have been updated decades ago and is now exacerbating the supply chain crisis. Recently, Hurricane Ida laid bare the lack of storm resilience in our infrastructure across North Jersey. As we face the possibility of more and more super storms, we have to ensure our infrastructure is resilient.
Sorry if this sounds a little like Doomsday. But that’s why we are here to celebrate the fix — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill – and why we have worked so hard for years to make this happen.
Hey, it only took three decades for our country to get our act together and get this done!
So, now for the great news!
This past spring, the Problem Solvers Caucus, which I co-chair, started working on a bipartisan infrastructure framework that would address long-standing infrastructure issues and make Americans’ lives better.
This translated into the final Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which passed the Senate in August with 69 votes — 19 Republicans and every single Senate Democrat. And, then passed the House last friday — with Democrats and Republican Problem Solvers.
Everyone from Bernie Sanders to Mitch McConnell voted for this bill. With the help of everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO, the Bergen Building Trades, the Operating Engineers, and LiUNA, we broke a months-long log-jam and got it across the finish line. The President will sign the bill on Monday at the White House!
So, let’s talk about what it will do for Jersey!
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill makes an unprecedented investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, and mass transit — including billions of dollars right here in New Jersey. It will finally get the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey built.
It infuses the largest investment in bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system, and commits unmatched resources to storm resiliency, electric vehicle infrastructure, and clean drinking water. Plus, it will ensure that all Americans, including those living in rural stretches in my district — in Sussex and Warren Counties, have access to reliable high-speed internet. It is also the key to increasing our competitiveness with China, which spent $3 trillion dollars on infrastructure outside of China last year.
Nothing makes me happier than knowing that the real work can finally begin. This historic legislation, which the President will be signing next week, will help create two million jobs a year for the next decade. Much of this work will be led by our hardworking building trades — with jobs going to the hardworking men and women of labor — who are here today and who build our roads, tunnels, transit, and electric vehicle stations, lay new broadband fiber, and who have been by my side fighting for the passage of this bill. Now, they’ll be able to help with repairing those crumbling roads on Route 17 and the bridge, cleaning up the lead-coated pipes across North Jersey, expanding broadband access in Sussex and Warren Counties, and finally getting the Gateway Project fully moving forward.
Man, do we need the help.
This legislation is also good for the economy. It will help us grow the economy in the long term, help create new jobs, help save our families money when they aren’t repairing their cars from all our potholes, and it’ll make their day-to-day lives easier. And, for every $1 we invest in infrastructure, there’s more than $3 of economic output.
It’s clear: we have waited far too long for major infrastructure investments, but the wait is over. We are finally getting people to work and shovels in the ground.
In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower recognized the infrastructure investments we needed to grow our economy when he invested in the interstate highway system. Here in 2021, we face a similar challenge, and — with this historic legislation — we are finally going to bring our nation’s infrastructure into the twenty-first century — to help ensure that we remain the greatest country in the world.
This once-in-a-century Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a bright light in a moment when our nation is deeply divided. It will add jobs, build the economy, and finally fix our crumbling infrastructure. After over 30 years of gridlock on infrastructure, this bill shows Americans that, indeed, we can unite, put country first, and govern together.
By working together — just like we did to get this bill across the finish line — I know our best days, for New Jersey and for our nation, will always be ahead of us.
Thank you and God bless.