Transportation touches every facet of our lives. If any part of the transportation system breaks down, we feel the impact immediately. Investment in our transportation modes is vital to enhancing our economy, increasing our safety, maintaining our global competitiveness, and most importantly improving our quality of life. Through my work on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am actively working on transportation issues that are important to our district.
Highways and Transit
The House is preparing for the 2009 Highway and Transit Reauthorization, which will authorize the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period from 2009 - 2014. In urban areas, such as the 13th District, transportation plays a critical role in the soundness of our economy and in our quality of life, which is why I have taken the lead on pushing policy changes that will be beneficial to our area.
Our streets should be accessible to everyone -- young and old, motorcyclists and bicyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users, bus riders and business owners. However, too many of our roads are designed solely for cars and trucks. I am championing Complete Streets, which ensures that transportation agencies design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users. Simple adjustments such as sidewalks, bike lanes, special bus lanes, accessible transit stops, and improved cross walks will make our streets safer, our environment cleaner, and communities healthier and more accessible.
Commuters sitting in traffic during peak hours spend an extra 38 hours of time and consume an additional 26 gallons of fuel each year. Employers are instrumental in providing more affordable and efficient options for commuters get to work, which is why I am introducing a national program to assist employers in offering commuter choice programs to employees. For many Americans transportation costs account for up to 20% or more of their monthly income - cutting into their ability to afford housing, food, clothing, and other necessities. A national commuter relief program will help ease these burdens for many families.
Freight and Moving Goods
New Jersey's economy depends largely on our ability to effectively and efficiently move goods. More than 500,000, or approximately 1 in 8, jobs in the state are directly affected by the goods movement industry, which includes the shipping of everything from food and clothing to cars and industrial supplies. More efficient goods movement enhances our ability to move on the roads, decreases harmful environmental effects, and minimizes damage to our infrastructure. I will be working to enhance goods movement through an intermodal transportation plan that strengthens our economy, protects and increases jobs in our region, and improves our quality of life.
Additionally, mass transit and public transportation projects will be a major focus of this legislation. I am working to secure funding for much needed transit projects in our district, such as the ARC project to expand trans-Hudson rail capacity and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, which links the growing cities of the Hudson River waterfront and connects to ferries, PATH, and commuter rail.
With the proximity of the Newark Liberty International Airport to the 13th District of New Jersey, I am committed to protecting the workers and the customers of Newark Airport. As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pushes extensive airspace redesign and proposes congestion pricing schemes, Congressional oversight is essential, and I have been working with my colleagues to ensure that the FAA hears the concerns of the people of New Jersey. I believe we all deserve air travel that is safe, reliable and affordable.