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Conn. Maps Out How to Spend $5.4B in Infrastructure Dollars

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced the state's planned transportation infrastructure improvements, including the addition of electric buses, 5G connectivity for state trains and a bridge replacement.

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(TNS) — In his first public appearance since testing positive for COVID-19 last week, Gov. Ned Lamont teamed with part of the state's Congressional delegation to tout the $250 million the state will receive each year, for the next five years, as part last year's historic infrastructure bill.

"Look, we're an old state, and I'm old. I've been hearing about infrastructure since Ike," Lamont said, referring to President Dwight Eisenhower. "Everybody talks about it; they don't get it done. President Joe Biden and our delegation and a bipartisan group in the Congress has got it done. And this is going to be transformative for our state."

Lamont gathered Wednesday outside the Guilford train station with state Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and U.S. Reps. John Larson (D-1st), Joe Courtney (D-2nd), Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd) and Jim Himes (D-4th).

Planned improvements to the state's rail system will shave 15 minutes off travel time from New Haven and Stamford to New York, Lamont said. Additionally, $20 million was set aside for the addition of 5G on the state's trains.

"So, you'll be able to use the train just as fast and the same type of Internet connections as you have in your office," Lamont said.

Blumenthal called the investment in the state's infrastructure "a game-changer" and "in the immortal words of Joe Biden, it is a big friggin' deal."

In total, the state will receive $5.4 billion from the infrastructure bill, to benefit all aspects of the state's transportation systems.

"We know what the infrastructure bill is, that's $5.4 billion to our state, which is about roads, it's about bridges, it's about modernizing airports, it is about jobs, and it's going to make us more productive as a state, which means that we are going to grow," DeLauro said.

The increase in annual funding will allow the state to build necessary connections and fill in gaps in infrastructure across the state, in turn encouraging more residents and companies to move into Connecticut, Courtney said.

"The overall package is the largest transportation infrastructure bill since the Eisenhower administration," Courtney said. "The $250 million that was announced for Connecticut in terms of mass transit, public transit, again, just to underscore the point, it's $50 million higher than last year, 2021. ... This is going to be a recurring appropriation in funding."

The $250 million amounts to a 25 percent increase from the 2021 infrastructure funding for the state, Courtney said.

Under the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that Congress passed last year, Connecticut will get $250 million each year for the next five years, Giulietti said.

"It's sustainable and it goes forward for five years," Giulietti said. "What they've done is, they've set the benchmark and allowed us to plan out those five years, so the projects you were afraid to go and take on because you didn't know if the funding would be there is now sustainable through those five years."

Wednesday's discussion was centered around the planned improvements for the state's trains and buses, including upgrades to the state's public buses to be electric vehicles.

"We're gearing up to put all the federal transportation dollars coming our way to work. These critical resources will help advance Governor Lamont's vision of improving the region's rail network, putting equity, safety and sustainability on the forefront of all our efforts," Giulietti said. "We've been very fortunate to have gotten federal money in several of our cities to advance that as we've come up with a plan to make sure all of the buses that we operate as a state for the state of Connecticut are going to be electrified within the next 10 years."

Among the existing projects whose timelines were expedited by the additional $5 billion are replacing the bridge over Metro-North Railroad in West Haven, which is expected to cost about $85 million, reconfiguring the Route 17 entrance ramp in Middletown and installing and replacing various traffic control signals in districts one and two, according to DOT documents.

The projects whose timelines were impacted by the additional funding will cost about $255.5 million but is not directly related to the $250 million to be put toward trains and buses, DOT spokesperson Josh Morgan said.

The infrastructure funding will also allow for expanded projects not currently budgeted for, such as bridge preservation, highway drainage improvements, the roundabout program and the new bus rapid transit program, according to the DOT documents.

©2022 Connecticut Post, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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