Transportation: Keeping New Jersey and America Moving
New Jersey is the East Coast’s crossroads for transportation, and Senator Lautenberg has been a leader in the Senate in advancing transportation systems in our state, our region and across the country for the benefit of commuters, passengers, workers and our economy. He has helped authored laws to fix our ailing bridges and highways, expand our rail systems and modernize our air traffic control systems. These are critical steps to keep our region’s and nation’s economy strong in the face of its dense population and ever-increasing traffic congestion. We must continue to make sure our ports, roads and railways can meet the demands of commerce, reduce our country’s dependence on oil and protect the quality of life for New Jersey residents and workers.
Senator Lautenberg chairs two Senate Subcommittees on transportation, has earned a reputation among his colleagues for his expertise and leadership on these issues, and is well-positioned to ensure the transportation needs of New Jerseyans are met well into the future.
Improving Mass Transit and Rail Travel
High gas prices and airfares and increased traffic congestion are hurting travelers and commuters, which is why Senator Lautenberg has long fought to make sure that New Jerseyans have access to reliable train service. With record numbers of travelers taking the train, he reached across the aisle to work on bipartisan solutions like the $13 billion “Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.” This bill, which is now law, will allow Amtrak to expand service, repair the Northeast Corridor and stabilize its finances and planning for the benefit of long-distance travelers and those who use New Jersey Transit to commute to and from work every day. Aided by his seat on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Lautenberg has stood up and won against President Bush’s attempts to shut down the railroad by starving it of federal funding. He has fought to make sure Amtrak receives the funding it needs to provide good service to travelers, pay fair wages to its employees and maintain the Northeast Corridor which 100,000 New Jersey Transit commuters rely on daily.
Federal Funding for New Jersey’s Transportation Needs
Senator Lautenberg has secured more than $1 billion for New Jersey’s transportation needs. He helped write the last 6-year highway bill (called “SAFETEA-LU”), which substantially increased New Jersey’s highway funding (by 30 percent) and transit funding (by 50 percent), representing the highest rate-of-return on the federal dollar ever for New Jersey in a highway bill. And he has led the effort to obtain federal resources for the construction of a third rail tunnel under the Hudson River for use by PATH trains, securing more than $100 million just since 2003.
Improving Safety On Our Roads and Rails
In New Jersey, more than 700 people are killed each year on our roads, and crashes cause approximately $10 billion in damages. Faced with these terrible losses, Senator Lautenberg has made it a priority to improve the safety of our roads. He wrote key common-sense laws to keep drunk drivers off the road, such as the .08 blood alcohol standard and 21-year-old drinking age. These laws save thousands of lives each year. And just months ago, Senator Lautenberg’s new law took effect to require repeat drunk drivers to have ignition interlocks installed on their cars to make sure they can’t drink and drive.
Senator Lautenberg also authored a new law in October 2008 to improve safety for railroad passengers, commuters, rail workers and those who live near railroads and drive through highway-rail grade crossings. His law requires the use of positive train control (PTC) systems—which use GPS technology to prevent train collisions—as well as updates century-old laws governing work-hour limits for rail workers.
And he wrote the laws banning triple-trailer "killer trucks" from New Jersey's roads and, worked to increase funding to fix our nation’s deficient and deteriorating bridges and protect them from increased wear and tear by larger and heavier trucks.
Making Air Travel Safer and Better for Travelers
Senator Lautenberg has fought to ensure that our nation’s aviation system remains safe for airline passengers and employees. He led the fight to defeat the Bush Administration’s efforts to privatize our nation’s air traffic control system. Senator Lautenberg wrote laws removing the restrictions on the amount of baggage and passenger screeners that the Transportation Security Administration is allowed to hire, so that staffing levels are determined by security needs, not by arbitrary political considerations. And he wrote the law requiring that runways at all major U.S. airports must either have a sufficient overrun area, or must install special protective aircraft-arresting devices, to prevent aircraft from skidding off the end of runways.Senator Lautenberg has also worked to make air travel less expensive, healthier and more comfortable. He led the fight to block the Bush Administration’s proposals to increase taxes on airline passengers. He wrote the law banning smoking on domestic flights, and has championed efforts to improve airline accountability to customers and enact a passenger bill of rights. And Senator Lautenberg has sponsored legislation to prevent more noise pollution over New Jersey’s residential neighborhoods and schools.