Menendez: NJ Towns, Commuters will Pay for Trump Infrastructure Plan with Tax, Toll & Fare Hikes

Menendez: NJ Towns, Commuters will Pay for Trump Infrastructure Plan with Tax, Toll & Fare Hikes

   

FAIR LAWN, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate’s mass transit subcommittee, today joined State Senate Transportation Chair Bob Gordon and Fair Lawn Mayor Lisa Swain at the Radburn Station in Fair Lawn to discuss how the Trump Infrastructure Plan will hurt local communities and New Jersey commuters, who’ll be forced to pay more to rebuild roads, bridges, rails and water systems. 

“Taken together, President Trump’s budget and infrastructure plan is a hit job on New Jersey families and commuters,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Instead of making a real investment in our aging infrastructure, the Trump plan actually cuts net federal infrastructure spending by $40 billion and shifts the burden on states and commuters by hiking taxes, tolls and fares.  That means commuters paying more for less.  That means ignoring critical repairs and upgrades to our roads, rails and bridges.  That means making travel less safe and less reliable.  That means threatening to derail the Gateway Project and ignoring calls to strengthen rail safety by fast-tracking lifesaving technology, like Positive Train Control, to prevent future tragedies like the one in Hoboken.  This plan is bad for New Jersey, bad for our country, and I will do everything I can to fight it.” 

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Despite public promises for robust federal investment to repair and upgrade our nation’s aging infrastructure, President Trump this week released a plan that reduces direct federal transportation spending, places greater burdens on state and local governments to meet their needs, and incentivizes projects that generate revenue, namely from higher tolls and fares. 

Sen. Menendez instead supports a $1 trillion infrastructure plan offered by Senate Democrats to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million jobs.  The plan would invest directly in communities to create a 21st century transportation network, rebuild water systems and schools, and make our electric system stronger and our communities more resilient.

“The Trump approach to infrastructure investment is all wrong for New Jersey,” said State Sen. Gordon.  “We shouldn’t rank projects based upon their ability to attract investors.  We should rank them based on public need.  It would be a shame if we rebuild New Jersey Transit only to see the system collapse because we fail to complete the Gateway tunnels in time.”  

The average Fair Lawn resident commutes nearly an hour to work, many to New York City, while braving overcrowded roads and trains with reduced service.  Mayor Swain has utilized federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding—which President Trump has zeroed-out in his proposed budget—to improve town roads.  Fair Lawn has also worked with New Jersey Transit (NJT) to redevelop Radburn Station, the second-busiest station on NJT’s Main/Bergen Line, and has future plans to expand commuter parking and bus shelters, and revamp its water and wastewater systems to meet the community’s needs.   

“As a mayor whose residents depend on a safe and reliable transportation network, I was excited when President Trump said he was going to invest big in our crumbling infrastructure, but this plan isn’t what was promised,” said Mayor Swain.  “We need a federal government willing to partner with and make real investments in local communities like Fair Lawn to improve the lives of our residents and help grow our economy—not simply pass the buck.  Small towns like ours can’t do it alone, and our residents can’t afford to pay higher taxes, tolls and fares to do what needs to get done.”  

The Trump Infrastructure Plan calls for $200 billion in direct spending—coupled with $240 billion in corresponding budget cuts to existing programs—in an effort to leverage up to $1.5 trillion in local and private investment.  The plan calls for reducing the federal match for typical infrastructure projects to roads, rails, airports, and water systems from 80% to 20%; expanding tolls on interstate highways, including I-80, I-78, I-287, I-195 and I-295 in New Jersey, that are currently toll free; and setting aside $20 billion for “transformative” projects that generate revenue.

 

$240B in Trump Infrastructure Budget Cuts^

Highway Trust Fund

$122 billion

Army Corps

$14 billion

TIGER

$5 billion

Grants to Amtrak

$7.6 billion

Capital Investment Grants (New Starts)

$19.5 billion

EDA

$2.5 billion

Aviation

$3.4 billion

CDBG & HOME & Public Housing Capital

$58.5 billion

Rural Water & Wastewater Grants

$5.1 billion

Superfund Cleanup

$3.3 billion

Other*

$310 million

(^over 10yrs.) (*including cuts to NBRC, DRA, and others) Source: DPCC

The Trump Administration took additional action this week to further jeopardize the Gateway Project, which includes replacing the Hudson River rail tunnels and the more than a century-old Portal Bridge in Secaucus.  Besides eliminating transit New Starts in his proposed budget, a program that would provide Gateway with direct federal funding, President Trump’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) inexplicably downgraded the ratings for key elements of Gateway, effectively cutting off critical federal funding for the project.  It would cost the region $100 million each day if the Hudson River tunnels need to be taken out of service due to age and damage from Superstorm Sandy before new tunnels are completed.

Sen. Menendez has long advocated for increased infrastructure investment as a means of improving quality of life, protecting the environment, and generating economic growth and job creation.  He has worked closely with U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and other stakeholders on both sides of the Hudson and in Washington to move Gateway forward.

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