As the Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, which has jurisdiction over mass transit, Senator Menendez helped pass MAP-21, a bipartisan surface transportation bill that will protect and create over 3 million jobs, including over 50,000 in New Jersey. The Senator also helped guarantee New Jersey $70 million more per year in federal formula mass transit funding that will allow NJ Transit to expand service without raising fares.
Throughout his career in public service, he has emphasized that transportation is about more than simply moving goods and people from one place to another. It’s about economic security in both the short and long terms, good paying jobs and national security. And it's about improving quality of life by helping families spend less money and less time in traffic and more quality time with their loved ones.
- Surface Transportation Reauthorization. Helped author legislation to bring record transit funding to New Jersey. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development, Menendez fought for key provisions in MAP-21, the highway and public transportation bill that recently became law. Highlights include:
- Nearly $1 billion per year in highway funding for NJ and over $70 million more per year for transit. By cutting waste and eliminating earmarks, the bill will provide New Jersey more than $506 million federal formula transit funding in FY13 and nearly $514 million in FY14, an increase of more than $70 million per year over current law. This is more federal formula transit funding per year than ever before -- without increased overall federal spending.
- Protects or creates nearly 3 million jobs nationwide including protecting more than 54,000 NJ highway and transit jobs.
- New standards for highway reflective markers that protects American jobs, worker health and the environment. Each year more than 500 million pounds of glass beads are used on U.S. highways to stripe pavement. Substandard imported glass beads undercut the U.S. domestic beads industry and could eliminate jobs in New Jersey and other states. Studies show that heavy metals in beads manufactured abroad not only expose American workers using the beads to contaminants, the beads can leach toxic substances into surface water and groundwater. The legislation would keep substandard beads off the market by putting a 200 parts per million limit of arsenic or lead in reflective beads.
- New $10 million transit oriented development planning program. The program will help communities create more livable communities by planning new development around new transit hubs. The provision is based on similar language in Senator Menendez’s Livable Communities Act, and in New Jersey would work in tandem with the state’s Transit Village program.
- Increased funding for the National Transit Institute at Rutgers (NTI) [$5million]. NTI provides training, education, and clearinghouse services in support of public transportation and quality of life for the entire nation. In recent years this important national program has seen its funding slashed, despite the increased need for training in the face of an ongoing wave of retirements in the industry. This bill will raise NTI’s funding to $5 million per year from $3.8 million.
- Streamlined and reformed “New Starts” process. The bill streamlines the process for the federal approval of new projects and allows projects designed to increase capacity on existing systems rather than just allow new systems or new lines. Older systems such as New Jersey’s that are at capacity could, for instance, use the program to add a new station or add another track.
- Lowered PATH fare hike. Successfully helped persuade the Port Authority to reduce an announced 2007 fare hike and reduce another announced fare hike in 2011 on PATH trains.
- Creation of Liberty Corridor. Secured $88 million dollars in federal investment since 2005 as the creator of the Liberty Corridor. This critical federal investment funded ten individual projects designed to move freight more efficiently, clear chokepoints, and help connect innovative job creators to markets around the world.
- Working to End Texting While Driving. Co-sponsored the ALERT Drivers Act, which would ban texting while operating a moving vehicle nationwide in a manner similar to the nationwide ban on drunk driving. The legislation would require states to bar the sending of text or email messages while operating a car, truck or mass transit vehicle, or else risk losing federal highway funds.
- Transit Villages. Sponsor of the Livable Communities Act to help towns and regions plan and implement development projects that integrate their community's needs for transportation, housing, land use and economic development. Senator Menendez was able to secure passage of part of his Livable Communities Act in MAP-21 (see above).
- Fighting Hidden Airline Fees. Led the fight to prevent airlines from hiding fees from the flying public. Twice Senator Menendez inserted language into the FAA Reauthorization bill to ban hidden fees and he simultaneously urged the Administration to use their existing authority to ban hidden fees. The Senator was successful and the Administration issued rules banning hidden fees that went into effect earlier this year. The Senator is now urging the Department of Transportation to go even further to allow true comparison shopping by the flying public.
- Combating Flight Delays. Leader in the effort to reduce flight delays. Helped enact into law a 2007 provision requiring the federal government to provide a plan to Congress to reduce flight delays in the New Jersey/New York region, the nation’s most densely congested airspace. Also helped enact a 2007 provision requiring the Government Accountability Office to investigate the FAA’s Airspace Redesign Plan, as well as the effectiveness of a variety of approaches used nationwide to reduce flight delays.
- Gateway Tunnel. When Governor Christie cancelled the $8.7 billion ARC Tunnel project, declining $3 billion in federal funding, Senator Menendez and Senator Lautenberg went back to the drawing board and began working with Amtrak on the Gateway Project. Increased traffic and congestion across the Hudson River threatens the economy of the entire region. The existing 100-year old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan are already operating at capacity during rush hour and ridership is expected to double in the next two decades. The Gateway Project is expected to increase NJ Transit commuter rail capacity into New York by 65 percent and also expand intercity and high-speed rail access, providing world-class, high-speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor. So far, Senators Menendez and Lautenberg have secure $35 million in funding to begin design and engineering work on the Gateway Tunnel project.
- FAA Furloughs. Leading voice calling for the end of the standoff over the FAA Reauthorization bill that led to the temporary furloughs of hundreds of FAA employees in New Jersey. Senator Menendez also helped lead the fight to secure back pay for these workers and helped secure final passage of the reauthorization.
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