HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is poised to receive billions of dollars in additional federal transportation funding for rail and bus projects, bridge and road repairs, carbon emissions reduction efforts, new electric vehicle charging stations and other initiatives under the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that cleared the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and now awaits action in the House of Representatives.
The state, which has been grappling with aging infrastructure challenges for decades, is also expected to receive huge sums for airport and port renovations, the expansion of high-speed internet service, electric transmission line improvements and storm resiliency efforts.
“This action will make a huge transformative difference in the lives of everybody in Connecticut, ordinary people who want to get to work, to be with their families, to go to beaches,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., referring to the massive bill that passed on a 69-30 vote.
The plan that cleared the Senate includes more than $5.38 billion for state transportation projects over the next five years. Connecticut will also be eligible to seek some of the more than $100 billion in competitive, federal transportation grants. The state must provide matching funds, money that will be generated by Connecticut's new highway user fees on heavy trucks.
Those grants cover a wide range of projects, from reducing crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians, to eliminating railway-highway crossing hazards. Connecticut officials have said the state is in a good position to receive federal grant funding for climate change and other initiatives, given the fact there are projects and plans already in the works.
The massive infrastructure bill also includes $30 billion in competitive grants for the Northeast Corridor Commission for rail projects throughout the Northeast, including in Connecticut. The Senate's approval comes nearly two months after Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont's administration unveiled an $8 billion to $10 billion “Time for Connecticut” plan that aims to reduce commuter rail times from Connecticut to New York City by as much as 25 minutes by 2035.
“I built my career in rail and we haven’t seen a federal investment in passenger rail like this since the creation of Amtrak,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti, a former president of Metro-North Railroad.
While some of the funding in the infrastructure bill is for new initiatives, existing grant programs are also beefed up. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said much of the massive package will be paid for with higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.
“This bill is a win simply because of the massive investment in infrastructure that will matter in Connecticut and our economy,” he said. “But it’s also a win for the health of America’s democracy, because it shows we can still do big things by coming together.”