The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation last week announced that U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) will retain his role as chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.
The subcommittee oversees passenger and freight transportation, including Amtrak, rail safety and security, truck and bus safety, pipeline safety and maritime issues.
"As chairman of the surface transportation subcommittee, I will continue working vigorously to modernize America's transportation network and ensure the safety and security of our roads, rails, pipelines and ports," said Lautenberg in a prepared statement. "Improving passenger and high-speed rail service in America and on the Northeast Corridor is a top priority that my subcommittee will pursue aggressively."
A leading advocate in the Senate for modernizing America's passenger- and high speed-rail services, Lautenberg aims to continue trying to strengthen Amtrak and prioritize rail transportation while leading the subcommittee. His passenger-rail agenda will include efforts to advance the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River, which would increase commuter-rail access between New Jersey and New York, and help make high-speed rail service possible on the Northeast Corridor. Lautenberg played a role in securing an initial $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the tunnel project.
Lautenberg has scored passenger-rail successes in the past. In 2008, he wrote the law to authorize and increase funding for Amtrak, and create the nation's high-speed rail grant program. And in 2011, he worked to secure the designation of the Northeast Corridor as a federally-recognized high-speed rail corridor.
Lautenberg also announced last week that he won't seek re-election in 2014.
"This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey," he said. "There is plenty of work to do before the end of this term."
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