The recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide much-needed investments in a range of projects in Connecticut, ranging from roads and highways to airports, transit, and electric vehicle charging networks.
Here is a look at some of the challenges facing Connecticut’s infrastructure, and how the federal legislation will help the state.
Roads and Bridges
According to a study from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, Connecticut has the fourth worst road infrastructure in the country, with over one-third (34%) of the state’s roads in “poor” or “nonacceptable” conditions.
Nearly 250 of the state’s bridges and over 2,150 miles of highway are also in poor condition.
And since 2011, commute times have increased by 11%, while each driver now pays an average $711 per year because of deteriorating roads.
From formula funding alone, Connecticut will receive $4 billion over five years in federal funding for roads and bridges—an increase of over one-third (34%) compared to the current funding.
The state will also receive $79 million over five years to reduce transportation-related emissions, and $90 million over five years to increase the resiliency of the transportation system.
Along with the guaranteed funding, Connecticut will have the opportunity to vie for competitive grants made up of a $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program and $15 billion for megaprojects.
The infrastructure bill will provide $17 million over five years in Highway Safety Program funding—a 29% increase—along with $21.3 million to augment commercial motor vehicle safety efforts to reduce crashes through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program—a 72% increase.
In April 2021, to highlight the need for renewed infrastructure spending, the White House released a report card for all states.
Connecticut received a C-, with the administration noting that the state’s infrastructure “suffered from a systemic lack of investment.”
Connecticut’s local and tribal governments are also eligible to directly compete for $6 billion in funding from the Safe Streets for All program, a program designed to increase infrastructure safety for drivers and pedestrians.
Connecticut’s public transportation system has struggled to meet the needs of commuters, with transit commute times up by 130.4% compared to those who drive.
Non-White households are disproportionately impacted by these commute times, as they are 2.1 times more likely to use public transportation. In addition, nearly one-fifth (18.8%) of transit vehicles in the state are past their useful life.
The bill will provide about $1.3 billion over five years to improve public transportation efficiency and safety across the state—a 39% increase over the FAST Act formula.
Electric Vehicle Chargers
The U.S. has quickly fallen behind in the growth of the electric vehicle industry, amassing a market only one-third of the Chinese electric vehicle market. In 2020, plug-in electric vehicles made up only 2.3% of new car sales in the U.S. while China made nearly three times as many sales (6.2%).
Connecticut will receive $53 million over five years to support the expansion and modernization of the electric vehicle charging network in the state, while also competing for grants out of $2.5 billion for additional electric vehicle charging funding.
A total of $66 billion will be invested to improve Connecticut’s slow and outdated rail system. $24 billion will be provided as federal-state partnership grants for modernization of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, $22 billion will be provided as grants to Amtrak to eliminate the maintenance backlog, and $12 billion will be provided for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high speed rail.
Connecticut will also receive $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements, and can compete for up to $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants.
$53 million will go towards developing Connecticut’s lagging airport infrastructure. Projects include improving runways, taxiways, and airport-owned towers, terminal development projects, and noise reduction projects.