Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who served five terms in the Senate, has died at age 89 from viral pneumonia, his office announced Monday. Lautenberg was the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the Senate.
Lautenberg served on the Commerce, Science and Transportation; the Environmental and Public Works; and the Appropriation committees, all of which play key roles in transportation policy and funding. He was chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on surface transportation and merchant marine infrastructure, safety and security.
He was a proponent of creating a national infrastructure bank to help seed important projects. He also authored a law that banned triple-trailer trucks in most states and fought efforts to allow bigger trucks on America's roadways.
Lautenberg also led the the overhaul of railroad safety laws in 2008 that required railroads to limit workers hours of service, improve grade crossing safety and require the installation of new safety technology.
His amendment in last year's surface transportation reauthorization bill requires trucks and buses to have electronic on-board recorders to document driver hours and control cheating by those trying to exceed anti-fatigue rules.
Lautenberg was also a strong supporter of 100-percent scanning of containerized cargo in foreign ports prior to departure for the United States. The 2007 law was strongly opposed by the international trade community and foreign governments, and has since lapsed into irrelevancy because of consensus thinking that it is impractical to implement. - Eric Kulisch