MIL-OSI USA: Courtney Votes to Pass Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Deal, Sending it to President Biden’s Desk for Signature

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Joe Courtney (2nd District of Connecticut)

Bipartisan bill represents the largest investment in American infrastructure in 20 years.

WASHINGTON, DC – This evening, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bill provides a five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs, and will help improve and repair Connecticut’s highways, bridges, public transportation, and water infrastructure. The IIJA also includes new resources to improve Connecticut’s ports, waterways, and high-speed internet access. The bill is the result of months-long bipartisan negotiations in the House and Senate, and represents the largest reinvestment in America’s transportation infrastructure in more than twenty years.

In August, the IIJA was passed in the Senate on a bipartisan basis by a vote 69-30. Now that Courtney and the House have voted to pass the bill, again on a bipartisan basis, it will head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“I’ve been in close contact with Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Giulietti about all the shovel-ready projects we’ve got in eastern Connecticut that are finally going to become reality for the people of a state with some of the oldest infrastructure in America,” said Congressman Courtney. “The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been months in the making, and now it’s going to become law, enabling life-changing improvements for all the people who drive, ride, travel, and work in eastern Connecticut. My office has heard from thousands of people in our region who wanted to see Congress to work together to reinvest in our infrastructure, and we always stuck to that mindset—eastern Connecticut needs infrastructure improvements, and we needed a bipartisan deal to get it done. That’s exactly what we got today, a bipartisan bill that will help complete some of our biggest infrastructure priorities, creating jobs and giving a boost to every family and business who uses our highways and bridges.”

Courtney continued: “Soon, people in eastern Connecticut are going to see the scaffolding for repairs start to go up at the Gold Star Bridge. They’ll notice construction gearing up for the new Enfield Train Platform, repairs being made to the Haddam Swing Bridge, upgrades to highways and roads across our district, and high-speed internet suddenly available in our rural communities. When we see all of that, remember that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is what’s giving us the ability to get it all done. This is a great bill for eastern Connecticut, and after months bipartisan negotiations I was proud to seal the deal in the House today, once and for all. Our bipartisan infrastructure bill is now moving on to President Biden’s desk for signature.”

Rep. Courtney has long advocated for a bipartisan path forward to reinvest in eastern Connecticut’s aging infrastructure. Now, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help complete some of our region’s most important and longest-overdue projects. For the State of Connecticut, the bill will result in a 32% increase in annual federal highway and transit funding over the next five years. That injection of funds into Connecticut’s transportation planning will free up resources to move projects forward, and create jobs.

Highlights of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package

Roads, Bridges, and Eastern Connecticut Infrastructure Projects

In Connecticut, there are 248 bridges and over 2,100 miles of highway in poor condition. In 2018, the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers graded the state’s overall infrastructure at a disappointing C-, while wastewater and roads were graded at a dismal D+.

The IIJA invests in new funding for roads, bridges, and major projects. The bill is projected to result in a $1.2 billion, or 32% increase in Connecticut’s annual federal highway and transit funding over the next five years, as compared to 2017-2021. The bill enables states and municipalities to target resources towards their most important local infrastructure projects, with a focus on resiliency, safety, and climate change. In eastern Connecticut, these projects include important infrastructure like repairs to the Gold Star Bridge, construction of a new train platform in Enfield, upgrades and repairs to the historic Haddam Swing Bridge, upgrades to the I-84/I-91 interchange in Hartford, and lots more.

Improvements to Water Infrastructure

In 2018, the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers graded the state’s roads and wastewater infrastructure at a D+. Over the next 20 years, Connecticut’s drinking water infrastructure is projected to require $4 billion in additional funding.

The IIJA would eliminate America’s lead service lines and pipes, address wastewater repair backlogs, and contains new resources help communities in eastern Connecticut protect clean drinking water for decades to come.

  • Improving Local Drinking Water and Wastewater Facilities—increases resources for states over the next five years to support the construction or improvement of local drinking water and wastewater facilities, to replace lead drinking water pipes, and to remove or reduce emerging contaminates in drinking water, like PFAS “forever chemicals”
  • Increasing Resiliency Against Climate Change and Drought—provides new resources to improve water infrastructure relied on by the western United States, and for the Army Corps of Engineers to address water project backlogs, including projects damaged by natural disasters

Broadband and High-Speed Internet

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how important broadband and high-speed internet access is to rural communities. However, a 2018 survey found that 23% of Connecticut residents did not have internet access.

The IIJA makes historic and long-awaited investments over the next five years to improve access to broadband in underserved communities, and to fund improvements to America’s cybersecurity capabilities.

  • USDA Rural Broadband—authorizes new resources for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to greatly expand rural broadband services
  • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program—creates a new program for states to deploy high-speed internet services to houses and businesses in underserved areas that lack service
  • Internet Service for Low-Income Households—makes permanent a CARES Act program that helps low-income households access internet service, and expands the program to reach a larger number of American households

Public Transit and Railways

The IIJA would help expand public transit routes and cut down on commuting time. It would provide a 41% increase in the state’s mass transit fund, enabling improvements in rail service, safety, speed, and accommodations that have been out of reach for decades.

In addition to providing more resources to state mass transit funds, the IIJA authorizes new programs for the next five years that will:

  • Make improvements to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and National Network. In particular, it will ensure long-overdue replacement of the Old Saybrook Rail Bridge, which is 114 years old.
  • Support the development of new intercity passenger rail routes
  • Help replace aging railway vehicles and railcars
  • Improve access to rail transit systems for Americans with disabilities
  • Support safety improvements to passenger and freight rail services

Electric Vehicles

The IIJA supports America’s transition to renewable energy, ensures our energy independence, and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. Investing in nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure through the IIJA will make driving electric vehicles a more convenient and feasible choice—in addition to a smart one.

The IIJA contains several provisions to improve America’s EV capabilities and infrastructure, including:

  • Electric Charging and Fueling Infrastructure—authorizes new grant funding over five years to support the deployment of infrastructure for charging electric vehicles that use alternative fuels. These grants must be used to deploy EV charging infrastructure that is open to the general public, work for multiple brands of vehicles, and located along designated alternative fuel corridors
  • Clean and Zero Emission School Buses—authorizes a new grant program to help replace existing school buses with clean, zero-emissions school buses.
  • Electric and Low-Emission Ferries—creates a new pilot program to provide grants to purchase electric or low-emitting ferries, and to electrify or otherwise reduce emissions from existing ferries

Airports, Ports, and Waterways

For a region with a rich and historic maritime culture and economy, the IIJA would mean transformative improvements to our waterways and coastal infrastructure. The bill also contains new resources to make improvements at airports across the country.

  • Port Infrastructure Development—new resources to improve America’s ports, with a focus on projects that improve the resiliency of ports to address sea-level rise, flooding, and extreme weather events
  • Airport Improvements—authorizes a five-year reauthorization of the Airport Improvement Program, as well as new funding to repair and upgrade American airport terminals, air traffic control towers, and other facilities and equipment
     

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