Railroad safety and community parks are the focus of two pieces of legislation that Congressman Albio Sires reintroduced when the 117th Congress convened.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, community parks and green spaces have become invaluable for residents of urban communities. The Community Parks Revitalization Act would provide communities with access to the resources needed to maintain and rehabilitate these spaces.
“Parks have given residents an escape where they can stay active, relieve stress, and get some fresh air, all of which are important for mental and physical health,” said Sires. “These parks also play a key role in creating vibrant, livable communities where people want to reside.”
Federal Support to Parks
This legislation would provide three types of federal grants and technical assistance programs, which must be matched with local funds:
- Rehabilitation and construction grants: aid local governments in rebuilding and expanding new and existing parks and recreational facilities;
- Innovation grants: address personnel, facility, equipment, and supply needs for parks and recreation facilities; and
- Recovery action program grants: promote development of local park and recreation recovery action programs by involving the community and youth to develop priorities and goals.
“In order to preserve and rehabilitate these free public resources for Americans living in urban and metropolitan areas, we must provide communities with the tools and resources needed,” said Sires.
Memories of Fatal NJT Accident
The Rail Audit Transparency Act requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide Congress with notice of when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity or commuter rail transit agency that serves their district.
“I am pleased to reintroduce this bill that will ensure our constituents are aware of when the rail services they rely on are under investigation for safety reasons,” said Sires.
Five years ago, the FRA was in the process of conducting a “deep audit” on NJ Transit prompted by an increase in safety violations. This did not become public knowledge until after a fatal rail accident that killed one woman and injured 110 passengers and crewmembers.
FRA Must Update Government Officials
This legislation would require to FRA to notify Members of Congress, Senators, and the relevant congressional committees within 10 days of the initiation of a safety assessment. Upon assessment completion, the FRA has 90 days to inform those parties of the assessment’s findings, including specific defects and any recommendations to address them.
“All Members of Congress in the House and Senate deserve to know when and why these safety assessments are taking place in order to best inform our constituents and provide any necessary assistance,” said Sires.