Harlem Rep. Espaillat Testifies In Support Of Surface Transportation Reauthorization For NYC Infrastructure

April 15, 2021

Representative Adriano Espaillat offered the following remarks during his testimony, this week, during the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Members’ Day hearing.

Where he had the opportunity to outline his legislative priorities and address critical infrastructure needs for New York City.

Watch video.

The following are remarks by Rep. Espaillat as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, and members of the committee for allowing me this opportunity to testify about important items I believe should be addressed in surface transportation reauthorization.

“As a recent member of this committee, and the only one representing New York City, there are a number of items I believe deserve consideration. I want to thank the committee for including a number of my priorities in H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, last year, and encourage you to include them again.

“My Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act is critical for encouraging projects to promote safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and together with the Complete Streets Act and the SAFE Streets Act will make our roads safe for all users while promoting healthier, greener transportation infrastructure.

I also want to applaud the committee’s inclusion in H.R. 2 of the new “gridlock” program to attack the plague of congestion in new, innovative ways. New York City is pioneering a congestion pricing and reduction program, the first of its kind in America, and the gridlock program will serve to scale these innovative solutions in a way that improves mobility and efficiency while improving air quality in minority communities like the ones I represent in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx.

“Additionally, we must use infrastructure investment as a job-generating opportunity for underserved communities. Not only must we develop the pipeline of workers for 21st-century infrastructure projects, but we must also focus our training and hiring efforts in communities that have been historically left behind when these projects hit the ground.

“I strongly support the inclusion of an initiative focused on generating partnerships between industry, state and local governments, and institutions of higher education or vocational training that target economically disadvantaged communities. For example, the City College of New York in my district has been working to develop a state-of-the-art infrastructure training institute with purpose-built curricula and on-the-job training initiatives. I believe this is a model that can be replicated throughout the country targeting communities of color, who are often underrepresented in the infrastructure workforce.

“Finally, I want to reiterate my strong support for transit and other major infrastructure investment initiatives such as BUILD and Capital Investment Grants, which will help to complete the Gateway Program and the Second Avenue Subway extension into East Harlem, which I had the pleasure of touring with the chairman two years ago.

As we reauthorize federal surface transportation programs, we must not only invest more in these key initiatives but also build upon their success while ensuring these programs are implemented in an effective and predictable manner. The previous administration made numerous, unexpected changes to financing requirements and often issued what appeared to be arbitrary, politically motivated decisions.

“As we look to reauthorization, we should include policies that ensure a transparent and predictable process for these critical competitive grant programs. Thank you again for this opportunity to testify and for all the hard work you do. I yield back.”

Representative Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and the northwest Bronx.

First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress. Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities.

He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), where he serves as the Second Vice-Chair and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he serves as Deputy Whip.

Representative Espaillat also currently serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.

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