Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
At the Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing:
ďMobility, Congestion and IntermodalismĒ†
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding these continuing hearings on the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century Ė TEA-21, and Iíd like to join you in welcoming our witnesses.†
Mr. Chairman as our committee considers what direction our nationís transportation policy should take over the next six years, I am pleased that we are devoting a hearing to the question of mobility.†† Studies confirm what drivers on our roads already know:† the level of traffic on our nationís highways is bad and itís getting worse.† According to the Texas Transportation Institute, Americans spent 4.5 billion hours stuck in traffic, with an estimated cost to the nation of $78 billion in lost time and wasted fuel.
As the most densely populated state in the country, the problems along New Jerseyís highways mirror what is happening around the country.† In our state, drivers spend nearly 50 hours a year stuck in traffic, according to the New Jersey Institute for Technology.† And, for many parts of our state, the total is significantly higher.† For all this time stuck in traffic, thatís an average cost of $1255 per licensed driver in wasted gasoline and lost productivity Ė for a total cost of $7.3 billion a year.†
Solving this congestion is going to take a multi-modal approach Ė one that focuses equally on road, rail and water.† For our nationís roads, it is clear that we will never solve our nationís traffic problems just by building more roads.† We need to also promote innovative approaches to traffic management that take advantage of emerging technologies, such as the EZ Pass system, and also promote tried-and-true approaches such as carpools and telecommuting.
For our nationís rail component, we also need to increase our investment in mass transit and freight lines.†† Every passenger and every freight car on a train means one less car or truck on our roads.†
We also have to focus on better ways to improve the connection between our road and rail network and our nationís 361 ports.† In addition to relieving the congestion along our nationís highways, increasing the investment in our port infrastructure will help generate taxes, wages and jobs.† You only have to look at the Port of New York and New Jersey to see the economic potential.† Our port is the third largest port in the United States.† Each year it generates $9.9 billion in wages and 229,000 full-time jobs.†† Nationwide $14 billion in wages and 413,000 jobs result from the activity of this port.†† We need to find ways to make the Port of New York and New Jersey and all our nationís ports more economically beneficial.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me again thank you for holding this hearing and I look forward to working with you and hearing from our witnesses.†