Today, Congressman Sires joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing H.R. 22, the Fix America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by a vote of 359-65. The legislation authorizes highway, transit, freight, safety, and rail programs at $305 billion for five years. Highway funding will be increased by 14.9 percent and transit funding by 18.1 percent from current law. The Congressman was appointed to the conference committee to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate transportation bills, and signed the conference committee report on December 1, 2015.
"This transportation bill is not perfect, but it is a good bill that will put Americans back to work and provide much-needed certainty to New Jersey businesses and local transportation agencies,' said Congressman Sires. "The FAST Act also saves the High Density/Growing States grant program, eliminated in the House bill, which provides an average $50 million per year to NJ Transit. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country and its residents rely heavily on transit for everyday transportation. Maintaining this funding to NJ Transit is vital to ensuring it can build new infrastructure and maintain state of good repair to keep trains moving."
New Jersey is estimated to receive $5.29 billion for federal-aid highway funding and $3.1 billion for transit program funding over the next five years. The legislation will create a program to address large freight projects of national and regional significance with dedicated funding and will help create domestic jobs by strengthening Buy America requirements. Additionally, the legislation includes language from Congressman Sires' Commute LESS (Leveraging Employer Suggestions and Successes) Act that will encourage the creation of congestion mitigation plans to expand transportation options for commuters and encourage employers to create and expand commuter benefit programs.
"The passage of this bill affirms that Congress still recognizes the importance of crafting intelligent transportation policy and understands the value of investing federal dollars in transportation infrastructure," said Congressman Sires. "I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle continue to work together to pass more bills that create jobs, boost our economy, and enhance Americans' quality of life."