Safe and Efficient Transportation
Safe and Efficient Transportation
I have lived in San Jose for most of my life, and like many lifelong residents, I have seen our area grow immensely in recent years. Due to this growth, our commutes have become more difficult and more time consuming—taking time away from our daily lives that is much better spent with family and friends. Gridlock threatens to undermine the quality of life and economic growth our region has worked so hard to achieve.
Providing safe, convenient, and user-friendly transportation options helps Americans save money, improve their personal health, and decrease their impact on the environment; it promotes economic development in our communities; and it creates good paying jobs. That is why I have been a tireless advocate for increasing the number and variety of transportation choices available to residents of Silicon Valley.
Through my role on the Appropriations Committee, I have successfully fought to ensure that our region receives its fair share of federal transportation funding to improve inter-city and intra-city travel. More broadly, I have been at the forefront of Congressional efforts to craft policies that encourage sound planning for our nation's airports, highways, and public transportation systems, particularly during my service on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (2001-2007).
BART Extension to San Jose
The BART Silicon Valley project is one of the most critical transportation improvements currently under way in the Bay Area. When realized, it will enhance regional commuter connectivity; alleviate traffic congestion; accommodate future travel demand; improve access to employment, education, medical, and retail centers; and maximize public transit usage among numerous high technology businesses and other employment centers in Silicon Valley. The alignment for this project generally will parallel I-680 and I-880, which are among the most congested corridors in the nine-county Bay Area region. The project represents the last link needed to complete the connection of all of our region's rail systems around San Francisco Bay. The project also promises to be an economic success: it is expected that for every dollar spent on construction, operations and maintenance of the BART project, $4 to $10 will be reinvested in the local economy.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) worked extensively with the Federal Transit Administration to make the BART project competitive for federal funding. A critical component of the process was the voter support of Measure B in November of 2008. The operations revenue that will result from our county's commitment to improved, expanded public transportation has significantly strengthened the project.
As a former Member of the House Transportation Committee, and a current senior Member of the House Appropriations Committee, securing approval and funding for the BART project has been one of my top priorities, which my constituents have supported. I was so proud of the work that was being done in our community that I invited U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary Roy Kienitz to see the project first hand and report his findings back to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and President Obama. The visit, which included a briefing with local business, transportation, and government leaders at the Mineta Transportation Institute, was a success, and was key in the President recommending the project for a funding agreement. I subsequently worked with Secretary LaHood to ensure the timely delivery and approval of the Full Funding Grant Agreement.
On March 12, 2012, I joined local and federal officials in San Jose at the signing of the $900 million federal Full Funding Grant Agreement, which included the appropriation of the first $100 million. With these funds, the project is expected to create 2,500 annual construction jobs and 7,400 annual permanent jobs once operational. Ultimately, the BART Silicon Valley Project means a stronger job-creating environment, which is so many of our communities' business and government leaders have supported it. The $900 million federal grant agreement represents the fortitude of our Silicon Valley communities and is a big win for our region, and I will continue my efforts to ensure that federal funding for the project continues to flow and that the project remains on schedule and on budget.
On April 12, 2012, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the project along with Senator Feinstein and other local officials.
Traffic crashes each year in the U.S. are to blame for approximately 42,000 fatalities and 2.9 million injuries. Vehicle crashes, in fact, are the leading cause of death in our nation for people ages 3 to 33. These sobering statistics demonstrate clearly that transportation officials and law enforcement authorities are battling a serious public health crisis brought on by unsafe, aging infrastructure and reckless, distracted and fatigued drivers. These traffic incidents result in significant economic costs totaling more than $230 billion annually, and throughout my time in Congress I have fought to secure funding to improve the safety of problem roadways and intersections in our region.
In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card gave the state of our nation's roads a grade of D and our bridges fared only slightly higher at a C+. In California, voters have funded transportation by passing infrastructure bonds, countywide sales taxes, and other local measures to help meet basic, ongoing transportation needs. But nationwide, we need a long term solution that includes new, reliable, and increased funding streams to ensure that we are able to meet our mobility needs. I am working with key local stakeholders and my colleagues in Congress to try to develop mechanisms to reward self-help states like California and address the shortcomings of the current gas tax (which has not increased since 1993 and has lost almost 37 percent of its buying power since then) for inclusion in the next highway reauthorization bill.
Prior to my election to Congress, I was a board member with one of country’s most effective highway safety organizations: Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH). In 1998, I authored Kim’s Law in memory of Californian Kim Mosqueda and her unborn baby, who were crushed to death by a 65-foot truck on Thanksgiving Day, 1991. The bill urged the California Department of Transportation to adopt regulations for maximum truck lengths on highways identified as unsuitable for long trucks.
In Congress, I have continued my efforts to make America's highways safer for everyone. I have continuously opposed efforts to extend workdays for truckers from 14 to 16 hours— almost double the workday of an average American. In 2005, I offered an amendment to H.R. 3 to encourage the creation of DWI courts to address repeat offenders, who have demonstrated that the traditional court system is not an adequate deterrent. Repeat offenders prove that punishment without treatment and rigorous accountability is not an effective strategy to protect the public from drunk drivers. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I have worked to ensure adequate funding for DWI and drug courts. I am greatly concerned by efforts by some in Congress to permit states to allow 6-axle, 97,000 pound trucks to operate on their Interstate Highways and am working to ensure that safety is not undermined.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airportserves as a critical gateway to Silicon Valley.I am committed to ensuring that the airport leverages federal funding to offer visitors and residents safe and efficient service. On July 17, 2012, I was pleased to join my colleague Rep. Zoe Lofgren in announcing that Mineta San Jose Airport would be receiving up to $7 million in construction funding for runway related improvements through a grant from the US Department of Transportation's Airport Improvement Program. The grant will fund the latest phase of an ongoing $55 million construction project begun in 2009 to improve the airport's general aviation taxiway running parallel to Runway 11/29. Continued upgrades such as these are essential to improve our nation's aviation infrastructure, which the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a grade of D in its 2013 infrastructure report card.
California High Speed Rail
The proposed California High Speed Rail system stretches from San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento in the north to Los Angeles and San Diego in the south. Operating at speeds up to 220 mph, the express travel time from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles will be just under 2 ½ hours. The service will be an exciting an attractive option for intercity travel and will reduce congestion at California airports.
Caltrans’ High Speed Rail Commission has selected a southern route for the HSR train’s entrance into the Bay Area, something that my fellow South Bay colleagues and I worked years advocating as the only sensible selection. A map of the proposed route can be found at http://www.hsr.ca.gov/. The proposed route is not only sounder from an engineering and environmental perspective but will significantly benefit Santa Clara County by stopping in a number of towns in our area.
In 2009, Congress appropriated $8 billion for HSR projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and President Obama’s administration recognized the achievements of California by awarding $2.2 billion of that funding to the California HSR project. An additional $945 million in federal grant funding has gone to the project from the Federal Railroad Administration. State bond funding will cover much of the cost of the project, but it will take a long term commitment from the federal government to enable the project to succeed. I am committed to defending this investment even as Republicans in Congress seek to cut funding for high-speed rail.
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