ISTEA's basic principles address the changing needs for America's future by rebuilding infrastructure, reducing congestion, maintaining mobility, promoting safety, protecting the environment, advancing technology and expertise, creating jobs, and ensuring the country's ability to compete in the global marketplace of the 21st Century.
ISTEA paved the way for better coordination of planning to improve our transportation system. It provided a new approach to planning that encourages transportation stakeholders to recognize that transportation facilities are not islands unto themselves, but infrastructure that substantially impacts surrounding residential areas, retail and commercial office space, along with recreational facilities. This means the decisions transportation officials make about roads, bridges, transit, rail, seaports and airports, impact those environs and need to be thoughtfully factored into plans.
The Region: Transportation and Economics
I'd like to talk a little about how the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region serves as an important source of revenue for the federal government, and why federal investment in this region is absolutely critical. 2: This region, with a population of 15.7 million people and personal income approaching $500 billion represents one of the nation's most dynamic regions for economic activity. In 1996, over $150 billion in international trade moved through this region's port and airport gateway facilities. The importance of these facilities are evidenced by the fact that almost one out of every four dollars of international trade by water or air move through this region. Retail activity exceeding $100 billion annually reflects the volume of goods that must be transported to and within the region.
Over $90 billion of imports enter the U.S. economy through the New York and New Jersey gateways, generating customs collections estimated at $5 billion. The region's per capita personal income which approaches $32,000, makes it one of the highest in the nation. This also makes the region one of the most important contributors to federal government revenues through the personal income tax.
Investment in the region's transportation infrastructure will largely determine whether this region remains the preeminent global regional economy in the United States. In the 1990-1995 period, an estimated $ 17 billion in infrastructure investments (in 1992 dollars) was made in the 17 county metropolitan region by the states and local entities. Of this total, 45 percent went for rebuilding highways, streets and bridges and an additional 29 percent for rail and other transportation investments. While this investment in infrastructure is substantial, it only touches the surface in terms of regional needs. Linking those investments by the states to funds provided by the federal government to address national interests is essential, which brings us to ISTEA.
According to the States of New York and New Jersey, ISTEA works! We received approximately $20 billion in federal funds since 1992, which aided in rebuilding our region's transportation network. But the job is not done. Stronger, more flexible and streamlined programs and increased funding will contribute significantly to accomplishing the goal of a seamless transportation system. Therefore, as we move forward in the reauthorization debate, the primary aim should be to make good legislation better -- an improved blueprint for progressive transportation decision making.
Why ISTEA Is Important To The Port Authority
The Port Authority is both a transportation provider through its interstate crossings and transit connections, and a consumer of the region's transportation services through its mission to support regional trade and commerce. Our transportation gateway facilities in New York and New Jersey include the region's major airports, marine cargo terminals, interstate crossings, bus terminals, and the PATH rapid transit system.
Our facilities are important elements in the regional transportation network and we will continue to balance our capital program and operational plans to work toward New York's and New Jersey's mobility goals. For example, the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners recently authorized $24.3 million to install intelligent transportation system technology at the George Washington Bridge. This project will have significant positive impact on traffic flow along the northern corridor. The Board also approved a $23 million expenditure for a new roadway at Kennedy Airport which will aid in improving traffic delays on-airport and along the southern corridor.
In addition, we have partnered with our colleagues in the New York and New Jersey Departments of Transportation, as well as others, to build workable coalitions for operating and improving the vast transportation network that defines our economic region -- the nation's largest market and global gateway. Transportation agencies in New York and New Jersey are responding with new initiatives to improve the performance of the regional network in the years immediately ahead and to advance a new generation of rail transit projects along the midtown corridor that are needed to support projected levels of economic growth. Though they have evolved separately, Governor Pataki's "Master Links" initiative and Governor Whitman's "Urban Core" program are complementary strategies.
We are collaborating with key transit operating entities such as New Jersey Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on a joint project to identify potential new transportation investments in the extended core of the New York/New Jersey region. This work will have considerable access implications for Penn Station New York, the forecast demand on the Exclusive Bus Lane at the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Long Island Rail Road's proposed Grand Central Terminal project. 4',. we continue our staunch support to the States in rebuilding the region's transportation system by testifying today to stress that a reauthorized ISTEA, without substantial modification, is key to the economic well-being of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region.
Port Authority ISTEA Principles
We, at the Port Authority, have given considerable thought to the emphasis that needs to be placed on ISTEA to achieve a seamless and modally indifferent transportation system, and while we are in total agreement with the position of the states, we believe these additional recommendations will result in enhancing regional mobility goals:
-- Strengthen ISTEA to encourage true intermodal planning for passenger and freight -- including all transportation modes.
-- Increase funding levels to the states with special emphasis on investments that stimulate improved economic competitiveness on a national and international level; and allocate funds to the states based on need and not who contributes the most from federal fuel taxes.
-- Promote regionalism by creating incentives for states to fund projects of regional significance. That is, projects that impact more than one state and are necessary to accomplishing improved mobility for passengers and freight.
-- Establish a more focused ferry program in support of the resurgence of ferries as a viable intermodal link with highway and transit. Federal ferry dollars should be used to advance only those initiatives which will eliminate or reduce the need for expending public sector funds for infrastructure renewal/expansion. The highest priority should be given to those projects which can demonstrate the ability to serve as transit system "load shedders," thereby adding peak period capacity.
-- Incorporate airport and seaport access and development into planning guidelines, with funding allocation designed to address the unique needs of the nation's primary gateways in support of national and economic objectives for global competition.
-- Require Metropolitan Planning Organizations to include all major transportation operators as voting members on their Boards. The absence of such key players inhibits true coordinative and collaborative intermodal planning and decision making.
-- Eliminate excessive regulations to both free up funds that can be expended on transportation projects and encourage increased private sector participation.
-- Expand technology research and development, emphasizing system integration of vehicle and infrastructure technologies for all modes.
-- Retain emphasis on national environmental goals. While we face the problems of increasing congestion and pollution, they can be tackled simultaneously through ISTEA.
ISTEA's greatest success is that in addition to improving the nation's transportation system, it is improving the quality of peoples' lives. We urge swift passage of ISTEA reauthorization so the momentum gained can be continued. However, we strongly request that the Congress and the Administration reject attempts to amend the funding formulas in any way that would cause the northeast states to receive less funds than in the past. The argument for funding equity should be predicated on "the greater needs of a state, and not a list of wants!"
Once again, thank you for the opportunity for me to present the Port Authority's views to the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee. We are committed to working with both States and our Congressional delegates toward the region's ISTEA reauthorization goals.