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Infrastructure Bill Shortchanges CT Climate-Justice Program


Friday, August 13, 2021   

Connecticut is expected to receive over 5 billion dollars. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the amount. (9:12 a.m. EST., Aug 12, 2021)

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut is expected to see over $500 billion in federal funds to modernize roads, bridges, transit, broadband and more, as part of the Senate-approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but groups watching the action say the new draft underfunds a vital pilot program that would benefit Connecticut.

The Reconnecting Communities program works to get rid of highways that separate communities and affect their air quality through higher carbon emissions.

Thomas Regan-Lefebvre, coordinator for the Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress, is among the climate-justice advocates calling for more support for the program.

"In Hartford, there are several plans to move the highways away from the city, or bury part of it, and it's not going to happen without federal funding," Regan-Lefebvre contended.

He acknowledged the program is slated to get $500 million, but argued it is only a fraction of what is needed. Reconnecting Communities makes grants for planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids and parks separated by transportation infrastructure.

There are $3.5 billion set aside for highway programs, which Regan-Lefebvre thinks should be invested elsewhere.

"We're not going to reduce pollution by investing in highways," Regan-Lefebvre argued. "We're going to reduce pollution by investing in alternative modes of transportation."

Overall, about $1.3 billion is expected from the feds to improve public-transit options in Connecticut.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the amount. (9:12 a.m. EST., Aug 13, 2021)

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