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Conn.'s federal lawmakers praise 'transformational' infrastructure package

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the recently-passed $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package "transformational," mainly for its investments in rail that he hopes will improve commute times for Connecticut residents.
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U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the recently passed $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package "transformational," mainly for its investments in rail that he hopes will improve commute times for Connecticut residents.

Congress passed a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill last week, and, on Monday, members of Connecticut’s federal legislative delegation called its investments in local transit “transformational.”

“The rail lines are going to be back open and operating,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said at Hartford’s Union Station. “The highways are going to be unclogged.”

Murphy said the plan supports “Time for CT,” a project aimed at shaving 25 minutes off the train ride into Manhattan from New Haven by 2035. Murphy believes that Connecticut needs these infrastructure dollars more than most states due to aging infrastructure. He also says it’s important to improve commute times to Boston and New York City.

“Companies are going to be coming in droves to the state,” Murphy said. “The return on investment on this bill is bigger in Connecticut arguably than any other state.”

When Time for CT was unveiled in June, state officials said it relied on $8 billion in federal funding.

There’s no final word on how much Connecticut will get from the infrastructure package. Fellow Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that it’s some fraction of a pot that includes $30 billion to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, $4 billion tied to roads and bridges and a $1.3 billion public transit allocation.

The White House reported Monday that the $1.2 trillion package represented the largest investment in rail — some $66 billion — since Amtrak was created. There’s also $25 billion for airports. Separate from transit are dollars slated for environmental investments, including more than $50 billion for drought, heat and flood protection. There’s also $55 billion in support for about 10 million households and 400,000 schools and child care centers that struggle with getting safe drinking water.

That was one of two items U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes said were personal to her.

“We are finally in a real way addressing clean water,” said Hayes, who represents Connecticut’s 5th District.

The other item she’s championed: “Clean” school buses.

“We have $2.5 billion to transform diesel fuel buses into electric vehicles,” Hayes said. “Those are jobs. That is a climate-safe practice. That will help benefit our children.”

While Blumenthal hailed the recently passed federal legislation as the most significant step on infrastructure in a century, he said there was more “work to be done” on so-called human infrastructure.

These are investments in education, health care and the environment.

“We need to get to work right now on the next phase, which is investing in the people who will use those roads, and bridges, and rail and other physical assets,” Blumenthal said. “We are investing in the physical assets. We need to invest in the human assets as well.”

Blumenthal and his Senate colleagues passed the infrastructure package in August. But final passage had stalled until recently.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.2 trillion package into law soon.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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