Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Conference Committee member for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, delivered the following statement on the house floor in support of this landmark legislation to invest in our national and regional transportation infrastructure.
Below is the full statement from Rep. Nadler in support of the FAST Act of 2015. To view the video of the floor statement, Click Here:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Transportation Conference Report, now called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. I want to thank Chairman Shuster, and Ranking Member DeFazio, for developing a bipartisan bill that we can all be proud to support.
“The Conference Report authorizes $305 billion over five years for highways, transit and rail, including Amtrak. Although many of us would have preferred higher funding levels closer to the Administration’s GROW America Act, the conference agreement provides an increase in funding of $12.8 billion above the House bill and $26.8 billion in guaranteed funding above FY15. Every state will get an increase in transportation funding. New York State will get an additional $1.5 billion above current levels in highway and transit formula funding over the life of the bill, of which an estimated additional $500 million will go to projects in New York City. The funding increase allows us to preserve these core programs, and still invest in new key areas.
“The bill provides $4.5 billion for the new freight program, originally created in the House bill, for large scale multimodal projects critical to our regional and national economy. This was a key recommendation of the Freight Panel that I co-chaired with Mr. Duncan, and I am very proud that it is included in the final Conference Report.
“For over a decade, we have made various attempts to address major freight projects that are too big or complex for states to address on their own. The PNRS program that we created in SAFETEA-LU was meant to address such projects, but was divvied up into many, relatively small, earmarks. In MAP-21, the PNRS program was reauthorized, but subject to appropriations, and never received any funding. This bill finally gets it right, and provides guaranteed, dedicated funding to address goods movement throughout the country.
“In addition to the grant program for large multimodal projects, the bill includes a new freight formula program to the States passed as part of the Senate bill, and it requires strategic planning at the state and federal level. All of these programs together will bring about unprecedented resources to fund freight projects that are long overdue and critical to our economy. It is a ground breaking achievement, and one of the things that sets this bill apart from its predecessors.
“The bill increases funding for transit, including all the major programs that benefit New York. The Conference Report not only restores, but increases, funding for the High Density State program under Section 5340 that provides approximately $100 million for transit projects all across New York State. The bill includes a 20% increase in funding for the State of Good Repair program, and it increases funding for Capital Investment Grants.
“The conference report does not include language restricting the ability of transit agencies to use other transportation programs, such as CMAQ and TIFIA, to fill the gap in federal funding for transit New Starts, which Mr. Lipinski and I fought against in the House bill. The bill maintains the historic 80/20 split between highway and transit funding, and it provides enough funding to create a robust Bus & Bus Facilities grant program that will benefit all fifty states while dedicating resources to the programs upon which our urban centers rely.
“I am also pleased that the Conference Report authorizes $10.4 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail, including $8 billion for Amtrak, and dedicates resources for improvements along the Northeast Corridor. The bill includes language to help the Gateway project compete for future funding, and it authorizes a new consolidated grant program to help railroads make safety and reliability improvements. Additionally, the bill dedicates $200 million to help commuter railroads implement Positive Train Control, and it increases the liability limit on rail passenger accidents to $295 million retroactively to help cover claims for those killed or injured in the Amtrak derailment outside of Philadelphia in May of this year.
“Overall, this is a balanced bill that will provide certainty and reliability for transportation agencies over the next five years. It would have been my preference to provide significantly more funding to address the major backlog of investment needs on our roads, bridges, transit and rail, but given the political reality this Conference Report is something we can all be proud to support. It increases funding for core programs, addresses new critical areas, and although it includes a few objectionable provisions, it is generally free of major poison pills.
“I commend Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, and my fellow conferees, for all their hard work in finally bringing a long term transportation bill to fruition. I urge all my colleagues to vote for this Conference Report.