Congress’ recent passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill comes with good news for New York and surrounding states.
Compared to proposals passed by Congress earlier this year, the new bill offers a much bigger pot of money — well above $200 billion. That means many more roads, bridges, dams, ports, airports and other infrastructure projects will be able to get the funding needed to be funded.
The bill also narrows the number of projects eligible for federal aid and gives a strong signal that states have the upper hand in determining the type of infrastructure projects they need.
In New York, the bill includes $100 billion for transportation and $25 billion for wastewater systems. That matches the size of the previous bill passed earlier this year by Congress, but in terms of dollars, it’s larger.
For example, the old bill contained a transportation section with $107 billion in funding, and a water section that had $16 billion in spending. A portion of that transportation portion was earmarked for transportation infrastructure in several states that were also identified as “regionally important,” including New York.
So while the new bill includes $100 billion in transportation spending, only a portion of that is earmarked for New York.
But the bill still includes significant language in New York that helps reduce infrastructure costs.
The bill offers $100 billion for transportation projects with “low- or medium-emission diesel vehicles,” which is good news for suburban and rural New York, as that includes many buses. In recent years, New York has faced a funding crisis for maintenance of the more than 50,000 street, express and commuter buses that travel in and out of the state.
New York receives around $300 million in federal support for transit operations and maintenance, according to the Federal Transit Administration. New York’s share of that funding is typically around 13 percent, meaning that the state has been expecting around $300 million in federal support for these projects — and will see more.
The bill also encourages what are known as comprehensive funding and planning rules. This includes requirements to set aside money for maintenance and repair of roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The $100 billion fund also makes it possible for transportation projects to get funded that didn’t qualify for funding before.
For example, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill included $1 billion for roads and bridges in the Gateway Project in New York. But that’s nowhere near enough to cover all of the costs of the project. The next phase of the project requires $8 billion in federal aid.
But the new bill includes $1 billion for the corridor and more than $10 billion for the city in total. That means projects in New York such as the proposed ARC tunnel, which would have routed Amtrak passenger trains to Penn Station in New York City, may not have been eligible to receive federal funding.
The tunnel project has been a priority of New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Gov. George Pataki.