Menendez: Trump Budget Cuts to Vital Transportation Programs will Hurt NJ, Hamper Economic Growth

Menendez: Trump Budget Cuts to Vital Transportation Programs will Hurt NJ, Hamper Economic Growth

Senator calls for greater federal infrastructure investment to boost NJ economy, jobs

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate transit subcommittee, today toured Global Container Terminal’s (GCT) ongoing, federally-funded expansion project straddling Jersey City and Bayonne to highlight the need for greater infrastructure investment to spur economic growth and job creation.  President Trump’s proposed budget slashes funding or eliminates several vital transportation programs that benefit New Jersey, putting the state’s economy and aging infrastructure in jeopardy. 

“The Trump Administration’s budget proposal doesn’t rebuild our transportation system—it leaves it to languish in disrepair.  President Trump’s budget looks like a blueprint for what NOT to do—and I will use every tool I have as Ranking Member of the Senate Transit Subcommittee to stop it in its tracks,” said Sen. Menendez.  “It’s time we talk about expanding proven programs like TIGER and New Starts, so that we can get more game-changing projects like Gateway off the ground.  It’s time we talk about making our roads and railways safer.  About making our freight networks more efficient.  And about creating good-paying jobs and safer conditions for our workers.”

Sen. Menendez calls for greater infrastructure investment, not less, during visit to GCT in Jersey City.

President Trump’s budget cuts $2.4 billion or 13% from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) discretionary programs.  It would completely eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which has invested $119,908,056 in vital, shovel-ready transportation projects benefiting New Jerseyans since the program was created in 2009.  The budget also axes the transit New Starts program, the primary federal funding source for the Gateway Project to build new Hudson River rail tunnels, replace Portal Bridge and improve service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.  The President also is using his budget to privatize the nation’s air-traffic control system. 

GCT was awarded an $11.4 million TIGER grant in 2012 to build the new South Hudson Intermodal Facility in Bayonne and expand the capacity of the largest port on the East Coast to accommodate larger shipping vessels following the expansion of the Panama Canal.  The project will create hundreds of permanent jobs, improve the overall efficiency of rail and port operations, enhance economic opportunity in the region, and significantly reduce the number of trucks on the already congested road network.   

“The funding provided by the TIGER program supported a doubling of the terminal’s rail infrastructure, and the purchase of two state-of-the-art electric gantry cranes.  The investment helped to remove truck traffic from our crowded roadways, reducing pollution and helping to improve our air quality,” Sen. Menendez said.  “It was also an investment in the American worker, bringing hundreds of good-paying, union jobs to our community.”

Besides GCT, TIGER grants have also funded the following transportation projects benefiting New Jersey:

Repair, reconstruct and improve 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities linking Camden and Philadelphia that will complete a 128-mile regional network in six counties around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. (Camden/Philadelphia, 2009)

Improve traffic flow and transit times in one of the most heavily used corridors in the nation through the use of innovative technology, using real-time image-based vehicle detection, broadband wireless communications, and an adaptive control system. (N.J. Meadowlands Commission, 2010)

Repair DelAir Bridge, linking the rail networks of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the Port of Salem, including the ports of Paulsboro and Camden, to accommodate the transport of industry-standard 286,000 lb. rail cars and enhance freight movement throughout the northeast region. (South Jersey Port Corporation, 2011)

  • $10,000,000 – SEPTA-CSX Separation Project

Separate passenger and freight trains on the Southeasten Pennsylvania Transportation

Authority’s (SEPTA) West Trenton Regional Rail Line to increase rail capacity, provide congestion relief on a rapidly growing corridor and faster and more reliable service, and encourage greater transit use. (SEPTA, 2013)

Improve traffic flows in and out of the port gates and improve the driver experience when using the port by combining modern facilities with technology innovations, and significantly update the storage capacity of the Port Newark Terminal for containerized goods, creating more than 300 permanent jobs. (Essex County, 2014)

Expedite pre construction activities that need to be completed prior to the full replacement of the century-old Portal Bridge that spans the Hackensack

River and is a lynchpin on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC).  Portal Bridge replacement is a critical component of the Gateway Project to build new trans-Hudson River rail tunnels and improve operations between Newark and New York Penn Stations. (N.J. Transit, 2015)

Reconstruct a network of streets covering approximately two miles north of the

Benjamin Franklin Bridge, integrating complete and green street concepts, and provide multi-modal transportation access and circulation improvements that directly address Camden’s infrastructure needs and support existing and future economic development to facilitate ongoing community revitalization efforts. (City of Camden, 2016)

“Whether it’s the roads we drive on, the trucks that drive over those roads or the jobs that load the trucks.  The practical economic and social benefits of TIGER grants are all around us. In short, TIGER grants put people to work,” said Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis.

Aside from Gateway, the New Starts program funded the existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and the failed Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project to expand capacity and build new Hudson River rail tunnels.  New Starts is a potential funding source for the Light Rail extensions to Jersey City’s West Side and into Bergen County.

Sen. Menendez was joined at a news conference today by Mayor Davis, GCT President John Atkins and International Longshoremen’s Local 1588 President Virgil Maldonado.