Menendez, Pallone Visit Crumbling Bridge in Perth Amboy, Highlight Critical Need for Long-term Infrastructure Funding

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone (N.J.-06) today joined transportation advocates and labor leaders to call on Congress to approve long-term, dedicated funding to repair and upgrade the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Funding for critical highway, transit and safety programs will expire at the end of the month, and the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) faces insolvency by summer.

“The ability to move people and goods safely and efficiently is critical to our economy and our quality of life,” said Sen. Menendez. “We can’t keep pretending the problem is going to resolve itself if we just wait long enough. I categorically reject the idea that we can’t afford to fix our transportation system. We can’t afford not to fix it.”

“The sooner Republicans join Democrats to take responsibility for repairing our country’s transportation system the less it will cost to maintain in the future,” said Rep. Pallone. “With thousands of crumbling roads and bridges, the need for renewal of the Highway Trust Fund and a commitment to robust investment in infrastructure is two-fold – a boost to the economy and job creation, along with the long-term safety and health of our transportation system. The time is now for this vital investment.”

The federal lawmakers stood along a structurally deficient Rte. 35 Bridge over County Road 624/Rte. 440 Connector in Perth Amboy, one of over 2,300 bridges in New Jersey deemed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to be deficient.

First built in 1960 and carrying 22,000 cars daily, the span is scheduled for full structural replacement by the N.J. Dept. of Transportation in its FY2016 capital plan. However, if the HTF goes bankrupt this summer, reimbursements to states for critical highway repairs and transit projects like this will be reduced or slowed.

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone also stressed the need for greater infrastructure investment in roads, rail and transit, including replacing the two aging Hudson River rail tunnels that also sustained significant damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Infrastructure: By the Numbers

Highways/Bridges

  • 65% of major roads in America in poor condition
  • 1 in 4 U.S. bridges need significant repair
  • Highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment needs
  • $121 billion and 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline wasted due to traffic

Transit

  • Zero access to public transportation for nearly half of Americans
  • $86 billion backlog of transit maintenance needs
  • $18.5 billion a year through 2030 required to bring transit assets into state of good repair

Freight/Ports

  • 52,000,000 tons of goods annually moved across U.S. transportation system
  • $46 billion in freight transported across the U.S. each year
  • 44 million jobs directly dependent upon U.S. freight industry

Economy/Jobs

  • The American Society of Civil Engineers found that the economy could lose almost $1 trillion in business sales and lose 3.5 million jobs annually beginning in 2020 if we fail to build our infrastructure to keep pace with this growth.
  • An estimated 36,000 jobs are supported by every $1 billion invested in public infrastructure.

Safety

  • 33,561 lives lost in highway crashes in 2012.
  • 2.3 million people injured in highway crashes in 2012.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle deaths have risen in recent years and accounted for 16 percent of the total fatalities on U.S. roadways in 2012.

Source: USDOT