HARTFORD — Connecticut would receive billions of dollars over the years for highways, bridges, railroads, airports if Congress grants final approval to a $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill.
The bipartisan infrastructure package was already approved by the U.S. Senate by 69-30, but still needs approval in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined Gov. Ned Lamont and unionized construction workers Wednesday in Hartford to push for momentum as the measure is debated in the House later this month.
Connecticut would receive $5.38 billion over the next five years or approximately $1 billion per year. This includes $3.29 billion for major road projects, $1.3 billion for buses and railroads, $561 million to strengthen bridges, and $100 million for extending computer broadband coverage around the state and to low-income families.
Could Connecticut compete for even more money?
Yes. The bill has $100 billion in competitive grants that would be awarded around the nation for a variety of projects. Those includes items like purchasing low-emission and no-emission buses, replacing bridges, and improving bus service. In addition, the bill calls for $30 billion in competitive grants for the Northeast railroad corridor.
Connecticut is looking to resolve the numerous “choke points’' around the state including the widening I-84 in Danbury between exits 3 and 8. The State Bond Commission recently approved $10 million for the design and engineering of the proposed widening, which would be completed before construction could begin.
Fixing the I-91 bottleneck at the start of the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Meriden, improving the I-95 interchange near the Milford Mall, and adding another lane at the Interstate 95 interchange at Route 7 in Norwalk are key priorities.
In addition, Joe Giulietti, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, said Wednesday that improving the Gold Star Bridge on I-95 in New London is important in order to handle large trucks that are currently too heavy to cross the aging bridge.
“We fortified it in one direction but never had the money to fortify it in the other direction,’' Giulietti said of the New London bridge. “So there’s a 30-mile detour that heavy trucks have to go and take in order to utilize that.’'
Yes. At least 10 major bicycle trails would be improved, including in Manchester and Stonington and along Route 1 in the southern end of the state.
The bill calls for money to repair crumbling platforms at train stations across the state, along with creating charging stations for electric cars at 30 locations along the interstate highways, as well as city and rural roads.
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill is tied to a separate, $3.5 trillion spending bill that Democratic House members want to pass. Democrats, who hold the majority in the House, say that one bill cannot pass without the other.
The House has not passed either bill, and the Senate has not passed the $3.5 trillion spending bill.
“It’s not a layup,’' Blumenthal said. “It’s not a done deal until it passes the House. I will just say, as a challenge to my colleagues in the House of Representatives, if we could do it in the evenly divided Senate, 50-50, you can do it in the House.’'