Senator Lautenberg is joined by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Robert Menendez, and Charles Schumer after the Senate approved the Superstorm Sandy emergency supplemental funding bill. (January 28, 2013) Courtesy Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg
U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the Senate, passed away due to complications from viral pneumonia Monday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. He was 89 years old.
Sen. Lautenberg was a long-time leader on environmental protection, transportation and protecting public health. Some of his public transportation highlights include:
- In 2008, Congress passed Sen. Lautenberg’s groundbreaking law revitalizing Amtrak and putting it on firm footing for the challenges of the 21st Century.
- In recent years, Sen. Lautenberg helped author major transportation bills that have increased federal transit spending in New Jersey by 50% and highway spending by 30%.
- Sen. Lautenberg championed the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail since its inception, securing more than $1.1 billion in funding for the project. The project has brought commercial and residential development to the Hudson River waterfront, helping to improve neighborhoods and increasing access to mass transit and jobs.
On February 15, Sen. Lautenberg announced he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate. At his announcement in his hometown of Paterson, N.J., he set out an agenda for the remaining two years of his term that included reforming U.S. chemical safety laws, improving gun safety laws and providing federal resources for New Jersey to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.
Sen. Lautenberg is survived by his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; six children and their spouses, Ellen Lautenberg and Doug Hendel, Nan and Joe Morgart, Josh and Christina Lautenberg, Lisa and Doug Birer, Danielle Englebardt and Stuart Katzoff, Lara Englebardt Metz and Corey Metz; and 13 grandchildren.
“Senator Frank Lautenberg was a strong advocate for public transportation, not only in New Jersey, but nationwide,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Chair Flora Castillo, who is also a board member of NJ Transit. “We mourn the passing of a great leader. His leadership in advancing public transportation and intercity rail will be sorely missed.”
“On behalf of the 1,500 APTA members and the millions of Americans who take public transportation in the United States, I want to express our deep appreciation for Senator Lautenberg’s contributions to public transportation,” said APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Public transit and passenger rail has not had a stronger champion in Congress over the past 30 years.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg received APTA’s National Distinguished Service Award in 1994 for his work on public transportation legislation.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood released the following statement:
“Today, the people of New Jersey and the nation as a whole lost a true champion with the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg. Frank’s tireless advocacy for transportation safety saved many lives — he truly was the Safety Senator. His commitment to public transit also helped provide millions of working Americans with affordable transportation options in their communities, evident in the success of NJ Transit, Amtrak and many of the ways that people move around America today. As a friend, colleague, and leader, he will be missed.”