As the country prepares for President-elect Joe Biden to take office, state politicians want to keep New Jersey’s transportation needs top-of-mind. This includes the approval of a recently-announced Cabinet appointment, and the need to prioritize state infrastructure projects.
The nomination of Peter Buttigieg as U.S. Secretary of Transportation received praise from federal, state and local leaders across the Garden State, many expressing Buttigieg’s mayoral experience will be an asset to the office.
“His keen understanding of local transportation issues will be invaluable as we balance the role of State DOTs in serving community and statewide transportation needs alike. I look forward to working with him and his team,” stated Gov. Phil Murphy.
Important Perspective, Needed Diversity
Congressman Albio Sires pointed to Buttigieg’s understanding of the importance of infrastructure.
“Pete Buttigieg will be able to highlight the local benefits of major infrastructure projects as well as the challenges that many municipalities face,” said Sires. “As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I look forward to working with [Buttigieg] on advancing the Gateway Project and supporting the Biden administration’s vision to rebuild America’s infrastructure and economy.”
This nomination was cited for being inclusionary as well as Buttigieg, if confirmed, would be the first openly gay cabinet official in U.S. history.
“Once again the President-Elect has kept his promise to have his Cabinet reflect our nation,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. “When he was a presidential candidate, [Buttigieg’s] transportation plan would have provided needed upgrades and improvements to all aspects of American infrastructure, from roads and bridges to broadband access. I look forward to seeing how he will better America as the next Transportation Secretary.”
Mayors Applaud “One of their Own”
Mayors from throughout the Garden State have come out in to voice their support of Buttigieg as well.
“Local elected officials understand how to roll up their sleeves and get things done on the ground, far from the petty political fights in Washington,” said Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano. “As Mayor of Parsippany, at the intersection of two interstate highways, I look forward to increased opportunities for infrastructure improvements, traffic mitigation, and environmental protection of areas adjacent to our highways.”
Soriano’s colleagues agree—the former South Bend mayor will get resolve lags.
“Having been in my shoes as a local elected official, Mayor Pete understands the critical importance of getting things done. Period,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee. “That’s why I’m excited to see him at the Department of Transportation because he can get things done while making significant infrastructure improvements in towns and cities across the nation.”
Payne, who sits on the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has written to Biden asking that his administration prioritize the completion of the Hudson River Tunnel project and the Portal North Bridge project, key components of the larger Gateway Program.
Payne expressed concern that the Hudson Tunnel is decaying rapidly, and any closures would cause catastrophic delays.
“When transportation ridership returns to pre-pandemic levels, passengers will need efficient and reliable forms of transportation along the northeast corridor,” said Payne. “Now, more than ever, is the time to make substantial investments in the Gateway Program to boost the national economy, create jobs, and ensure that millions of intercity rail passengers and daily commuters have access to modern safe transportation infrastructure.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka pointed to the Gateway Program when speaking of Buttigieg’s nomination as well.
Trump Stalled Projects
“Newark will have a partner and friend in Mayor Pete,” said Baraka. “We look forward to working with him on the Gateway Program and many other important infrastructure projects. The impact of these projects to Newark as well as so many underserved communities will assuredly lead to jobs and wealth in our communities and is a clear path to a more equitable future.”
President Donald Trump’s administration rated the Hudson River Tunnel project as medium-low in the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program, making it ineligible for federal funding.
“These two projects are critical to the nation’s infrastructure. I know President-elect Biden understands the importance of modern infrastructure to a successful economy,” said Payne. “That is why I am confident his administration will give the Gateway Program the federal funding and resources necessary to improve transportation throughout the Northeast Corridor.”