In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama addressed America’s broken transportation system. The speech marked the first time in over a decade that a President stood before the Congress to discuss the need to improve our nation’s infrastructure and the direct connection between infrastructure improvements and increasing our global competitiveness. This speech has brought into focus something many of us already knew – the need to repair and modernize our nation’s infrastructure is urgent.
America’s deteriorating transportation networks are a roadblock to commerce. Improvements to this sector are an essential investment in our country’s future and an immediate means to job creation. Residents of Connecticut don’t need to spend much time on I-95 or the Merritt Parkway to understand the severity of the challenges we face locally. We must reduce traffic congestion on our roads and highways, make rail transit more accessible, expand use of alternative modes of transportation and ease the transportation burden of our district’s residents and commuters. I will continue to seek opportunities to bring money and resources into Connecticut’s fourth district to tackle these issues and improve our infrastructure.
We have already brought millions of dollars for transportation improvements into the state under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and through the annual budget process. These include: over $70 million for safety improvements, resurfacing, enhancements, and bridge improvements to the Merritt Parkway; over $11 million for infrastructure improvements at the Steel Point project in Bridgeport that will generate thousands of new jobs; and $30 million for upgrades to Metro North’s Danbury Branch line, enhancing safety, shortening commute times, and improving frequency of service. In addition, I have been pleased to see hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal investments for street and sidewalk improvements throughout the district, and improvements to central transportation hubs in the district including $2 million towards facility enhancements at the Stamford Urban Transitway, the centerpiece of Stamford’s effort to connect the Stamford Transportation Center with its Amtrak, regional rail, and commuter bus facilities.
I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 402, The National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011. The establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank that can provide a new way to objectively fund our nation’s critical infrastructure projects is essential at a time when fiscal constraints at all levels of government are making financing projects by conventional means difficult. The Infrastructure Bank would also attract private investment and facilitate private sector partnering with regions, states and localities to borrow from the Bank while adding its own private equity to projects.
Connecticut’s infrastructure is critical not only to our economic competitiveness but also to the quality of life of those who live in our great state. Together, I look forward to continuing to address the growing transportation needs of the fourth district.