Congressman convenes panel on infrastructure
NJ Transit's problems among matters discussed


Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5) convenes local business leaders, union leaders, and local elected officials at the IBEW Local 164 Meeting Hall. From left: Nat Bottigheimer, Mike Schneider, Congressman Gottheimer, Joseph Sanzari, Lisa Chowansky, Margot Chowansky, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) Photo provided

PARAMUS — On August 8, 2018, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5) convened local business leaders, union leaders, and local elected officials for a roundtable on the problems currently stalling progress on critical infrastructure problems including the Gateway Project and improvements to NJ Transit. Today's event comes after dozens of train cancellations in recent weeks by NJ Transit due to engineer staff shortages, leaving commuters waiting and costing local businesses.
At the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 164 Meeting Hall in Paramus, the group discussed the Gateway Project, issues they were seeing on the ground, the infrastructure projects in critical need of investment, the factors getting in the way of progress, and the ramifications of this lack of progress for local workers, businesses, and the New Jersey economy.
In Congress, Gottheimer was been focused on improving North Jersey’s roads, rails, bridges, and roads, including through his Fixing the Fifth Infrastructure Repair Plan to boost North Jersey’s return on the tax dollars it already sends to Washington; his bipartisan Get on Board to Fix the Tunnel Act to force the Administration to get involved again with the Gateway Program Development Corporation, his infrastructure plan with his fellow members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to increase public-private partnerships, and his bipartisan FRA Safety Data Improvement Act, which brings consistency and the power of big data to help improve rail safety and which unanimously passed the House back in April.
“Good infrastructure is at the core of our economy’s success, and infrastructure investment is one of the greatest economic multipliers there is," Gottheimer said. "Nowhere is that more true than in New Jersey, where we are second in the nation, percentage-wise, of commuters who rely on public transit. Yet, over the last year, NJ Transit has had more train breakdowns than any other commuter railroad in American, and we’ve seen projects like the critical Gateway Project suffer bureaucratic barriers, a lack of investment, or delays. If the Hudson River tunnels fail in the next few years and have to come offline, the U.S. economy would lose $100 million per day. Thank you everyone who joined me today to discuss the importance on breaking through the gridlock to actually make progress and begin investing in our crumbling roads, rails, and bridges. Having all stakeholders at the table is critical to moving forward. If we make these necessary improvements in New Jersey to our roads, bridges, and tunnels, and cut our taxes and unnecessary regulations, we will have the competitive advantage and entice more jobs and businesses to come, not just to our country, but to our state and do business with us.”
“The only way to get things done is by labor, business, and government working together. If we separate ourselves, nothing is going to get done,” said Bergen County Building and Construction Trades Council President Rick Sabato.
Attendees discussed how both sides of the aisle can work together to tackle our nation's infrastructure challenges. At the roundtable, Gottheimer was joined by:
• State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee Chair
• Joseph Sanzari, Joseph M. Sanzari Inc. President & CEO
• Rick Sabato, Bergen County Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) President
• Mike Schneider, Bergen County Central Trades and Labor Council President
• Assemblyman Chris Tully (D-Bergen)
• Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-Bergen)
• Sean Hughes, Coach USA
• Scott Sprengel, Coach USA
• Dan Ortega, Operating Engineers
• Zoe Baldwin, Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of NJ
• Dan Kennedy, Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of NJ
• Bob Briant Jr., Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of NJ
• John Maisano, New Prince Concrete Construction
• Vincent Maisano, New Prince Concrete Construction
• Nat Bottigheimer, Regional Plan Association
• George Schreck, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Anthony Abrantes, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Pete Gowing, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Robert Hopkins, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Lisa Chowansky, HC Constructors Inc.
• Margot Chowansky, HC Constructors Inc.
• Mike Pierce, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Harold Bender, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
• Cesar Gamio, Operating Engineers
• Timothy Murray, Tilcon
• Tom Walker, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
• Donald DeAugustine, United Brotherhood of Carpenters
• Jeremy Milin, United Brotherhood of Carpenters DockBuilders
• Michael Stiles, United Association of Pipefitters