Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, on Friday announced approval of legislation that he said will support good-paying jobs and rebuild America’s infrastructure. The bipartisan legislation provides a 10-year plan for nation building here at home, and reauthorizes through 2026 the existing extension of the surface transportation bill.
“Infrastructure investment is fundamental to the growth of the American economy,” Higgins said. “These investments create jobs in the construction trades and materials industry immediately, after which private sector investments follow. Look no further than Main Street, Ohio Street and Niagara Street in Buffalo to see the economic return on federal infrastructure investment. This bill brings new opportunities for long-lasting investments in the infrastructure and hardworking people of Western New York.”
Highlights of the bill and the impact it could have on Western New York:
Roads & Bridges: $110 billion for roads & bridges. The bill includes $11 billion for transportation safety projects, and $1 billion for infrastructure investments that reconnect divided communities. In Western New York, projects like the Kensington and the Scajaquada could be eligible.
Water and Sewer Infrastructure: $55 billion for water and sewer infrastructure including a nationwide effort to replace old, lead pipes. The City of Buffalo alone is home to 100 miles of lead service lines.
Broadband: $65 billion to make sure every American has access to high-speed internet. Approximately 1 million New York households are without broadband access, including nearly 97,000 homes in Western New York. This state would receive an estimated $100 million to expand broadband.
Weatherization: $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance program, which enables seniors, disabled and low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills, conserve energy and improve the health and safety of their homes. Approximately 177,000 households in Erie and Niagara counties would be eligible.
Planes, Trains, Buses & Automobiles: Makes largest federal investment – $39 billion – in public transit. This includes $66 billion for freight and passenger rail, including the expansion of Amtrak; $25 billion for airports; $7.5 billion for a nationwide network of electric vehicle chargers; $5 billion in clean busses for communities; and delivering thousands of electric school buses nationwide. It orders a study on recommendations to improve crossborder rail service between the U.S. and Canada, including the feasibility of and costs associated with a preclearance facility, which could benefit the Niagara Falls train station. Higgins and Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino recently advocated for improved crossborder rail service.
Ports of Entry and Waterways: $3.85 billion for improvements to land ports of entry including local northern border crossings; $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission, which includes Niagara County; $429 million for U.S. Coast Guard shore construction, which could help with future phases of improvements at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo; and $11.6 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineer construction work in addition to its annual allocation.
Great Lakes: $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Since 2010, GLRI has provided over $232 million for projects across New York, including more than $72 million for 125-plus projects cleaning up and improving rivers and waterways in Western New York.
Brownfield & Superfund Cleanup: $21 billion for environmental remediation, funding especially critical for older industrial cities such as Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lackawanna.
Clean Energy Transmission: $65 billion to upgrade power infrastructure, better connect to renewable energy sources and safeguard communities against power outages.
The bipartisan infrastructure package also includes language to require contractors to pay prevailing wages supporting good-paying jobs, and includes “Buy American” requirements for iron, steel, manufactured and construction products.
Previously approved in the Senate, the bill now goes to the president’s desk for his signature.