New York will receive at least $27 billion to resuscitate its aging infrastructure, and millions of dollars to bridge the digital divide plaguing upstate, rural communities and low-income New Yorkers as part of the federal infrastructure package signed into law this week, officials said Wednesday.

The historic $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law Monday afternoon by President Joe Biden, is the largest such federal investment in decades — and ever, in some sectors.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, Rep. Brian Higgins and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer attended the signing of the legislation providing a landmark investment in airports, roads, connecting local workers to good-paying jobs, improving water and sewage systems and making high-speed internet affordable and available in every urban, suburban and rural community.

New York has nearly 1,700 bridges and 7,300 miles of highway in poor, dilapidated conditions, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said Wednesday during a virtual call about the details of the bill.

“They are impacting people’s daily lives,” Gillibrand said. “They are the roads people drive to work and the bridges they cross on their way to school.”

New York residents’ average commute times have increased by 7.4% and each driver pays an average of $625 per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair, the senator said.

The state will receive $11.6 billion for highway projects and nearly $2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over the next five years, based on funding formulas in the legislation.

“I’m proud of the key provision of my bill Build Local, Hire Local, were included in the package and that it provides $1 billion to ensure that the tear down and reconstruction of those highways not only reconnects communities, but prioritizes training and hiring local workers,” Gillibrand said.

The legislation will provide $100 million in grants to internet providers and localities to ensure every New York household is connected to high-speed broadband internet access.

The law does not specify the speed broadband build-outs must satisfy, but other federal funding for broadband projects mandate a minimum of 25 megabits per second.

At least 186,754 New Yorkers lack high-speed internet access, with 13% of state households without an internet subscription.

No timeline is available for the application or funding processes.

“We will work with the (Federal Communications Commission) and other federal agencies to make sure it happens quickly,” the senator said.

Four percent of residents live in areas without broadband infrastructure, the senator said, particularly impacting students, older adults, people of color and low-income families in rural and urban areas.

“It’ll create price transparency and help families comparison shop by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate services,” Gillibrand said.

About 5,375,000 New Yorkers, or 28% of people in the state will be eligible for a connectivity benefit to help low-income families afford internet access at a reduced rate.

Biden, a Democrat, earmarked $65 billion in the bill to improve and expand broadband to deliver reliable high-speed internet to every household in the nation — a promise he made as a presidential candidate.

The state will also receive $9.8 billion over five years for sustainable and efficient public transportation, $175 million to support the expansion of a statewide electric vehicle charging network, $28 million to protect against cyberattacks, $685 million for infrastructure development for airports and $2.6 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure, among other programs in the legislation.

Gillibrand’s Resilient Highways Act was also included in the infrastructure package, which will give state transportation departments more flexibility to use National Highway Performance Program funding.

States can use this money for resiliency projects to make critical improvements to protect bridges, tunnels, and highways against future damage from sea-level rise, floods, wildfires and other disasters, according to the senator’s office.

“Much of America’s infrastructure is already at risk of flooding and sea level rise and extreme weather will only make that risk grow when our roads are shut down by weather — that puts our ability to travel and transport goods across the country in jeopardy,” Gillibrand said. “These investments will keep our communities connected, keep our economy moving, save us money in the long run and create good jobs. The package will also help us proactively address some of the major contributors to climate change and help New Yorkers pursue more environmentally friendly transportation options.”

Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday that the infrastructure bill includes $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission — more than triple its previous funding.

The commission is a federal-state partnership focused on the economic revitalization of communities across the northern border region, which includes New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The increase will support economic development and infrastructure projects throughout the north country and upstate communities, the senator said.

“The Northern Border Regional Commission has played a unique and pivotal role in spurring economic development, upgrading infrastructure and creating jobs in communities across the North Country and broader Upstate New York region,” Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. “Funding for the NBRC will have a direct impact on many rural and distressed counties in upstate New York.”

The commission awarded more than $4.6 million in direct economic and infrastructure investments in northern New York communities to date in 2021, according to Schumer’s office.

The commission includes the governors of the four northern border states and a federal co-chair and provides financial and technical assistance to communities in the region to support entrepreneurs, improve water, broadband and transportation infrastructure.

The state’s northern border region includes 28 counties: Cayuga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Orleans, Oswego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Washington, Warren, Wayne and Yates.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

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(2) comments

HotelMike

Just another government corporate welfare scam that’ll be rife with fraud. Only 6% of what people consider infrastructure is in the bill. The rest is pork.

Joseph Savoca

Government and the private sector getting people back to work.

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