Washington, DC -- Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) today voted for the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), which reauthorizes surface transportation programs through Fiscal Year 2025 and provides significant investment in America’s infrastructure. It includes transportation infrastructure priorities that Rep. Sherrill urged the committee to support that will move the Gateway Project forward, bring construction dollars back to New Jersey, and prevent future federal obstruction. Two of Rep. Sherrill’s amendments were included in the legislation to support the Gateway Project and to improve COVID-19 safety on mass transit.
“We need to invest in our roads, railways, and bridges so that we can continue to jumpstart our economy and build the 21st century infrastructure that America deserves,” said Rep. Sherrill. “This package includes critical provisions that will help get shovels in the ground for the Gateway Project — the most important infrastructure project in the country. My amendments included in this legislation could add up to $500 million for Gateway and help ensure that we implement evidence-based safety measures on mass transit systems to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and ensure resiliency against future pandemics.”
Included in H.R. 2 are two amendments introduced by Rep. Sherrill that address key priorities for New Jersey. The first focuses on fixing the financial constraints faced by the Gateway Tunnel Project, the nation’s most critical surface infrastructure project. Under current law, financing through the federal rail loan program (the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program) requires projects to pay an up-front credit risk premium before the loan is authorized, making it difficult for projects to access this lending. Rep. Sherrill’s amendment provides an additional $50 million per year to help projects cover this premium. This will unlock upwards of $500 million in new rail investment per year, including critical financing for the Gateway Tunnel Project and other rail projects in the Garden State.
The second amendment addresses how public transportation systems across New Jersey and the country can be safely re-opened. Rep. Sherrill and Rep. Peter King of New York established the bipartisan Regional Recovery Task Force, consisting of members from the Northeast region, to address key issues relating to the region’s recovery from COVID-19. In May, the task force spoke with Pat Foye of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) about ensuring the safety of passengers and crew. Building off his recommendations, this amendment creates a new Government Accountability Office study to research and recommend specific safety measures for each mode of transportation that would ensure that all agencies have specific guidelines that will help keep passengers and crew safe, as well as information on the different technologies that may support these efforts.
Also included in the Moving Forward Act is Rep. Sherrill’s Mitigate Methane Now Act (H.R. 5542), which would help mitigate climate change immediately by encouraging the replacement of old distribution pipelines, which are a major source of methane leakage, particularly in the Northeast where we have the oldest infrastructure.
The Moving Forward Act includes several provisions Representative Sherrill advocated for to advance the Gateway Project and improve commuting and passenger rail in New Jersey and along the Northeast Corridor:
- Authorizes $29.3 billion over five years for Amtrak, including $13.1 billion for the Northeast Corridor – more than three times the FAST Act level of investment.
- Clarifies that federal loans under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) that are repaid with state funds are counted as part of the state government share of the project. This provision was originally included in the Transportation Funding Fairness Act, sponsored by Rep. Malinowski and co-sponsored by Rep. Sherrill.
- Creates the Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) Grant Program, which is authorized at $19 billion over five years and is devoted entirely to funding passenger rail improvements and expansion. Rep Sherrill testified in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May 2019 about the need for dedicated funding sources for passenger rail projects.
- Specifies that PRIME grants are available to projects in the project planning, development, and environmental analysis phase. Rep. Sherrill has strongly advocated for the inclusion of this language after the Administration held up Gateway funding because the project wasn’t in the construction phase.
- Creates the Projects of National and Regional Significance grant program, a broad funding pool for passenger rail/transit projects such as Gateway that is authorized at $9 billion over the life of the bill.
- Expands funding for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program from $1.2 billion over five years to $7 billion over five years, and expands eligibility for the program to commuter authorities such as NJ Transit.
- Requires increased oversight and transparency in the Department of Transportation’s transit project authorization process, including requiring regular reports to Congress by the Secretary of Transportation about transit funding decision-making.