May 20, 2014

Larson favors 'Marshall Plan for American Infrastructure'

Press release from U.S. Rep. John Larson, Bristol's congressman:

 (Washington) – Congressman John B. Larson released the following statement today after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act Conference Report (H.R. 3080), a bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed 412-4 in the House of Representatives:

“Today, Congress took an important step toward improving our nation’s infrastructure by passing the WRRDA legislation.  It is my hope that the innovative financing programs, such as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which I advocated for and were ultimately included in the agreement will have a real impact on the infrastructure associated with our waterways, particularly the 70-year old levees protecting the banks of Hartford and East Hartford.  This, however, was only a first step towards addressing our significant infrastructure problems. 

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our nation’s ports a C grade, inland waterways a D-, dams a D, and levees a D-. Funding for levees and flood protection projects are acutely critical to Connecticut and the Northeast in the face of a changing climate. Every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation or resilience measures can reduce the cost of damage by four dollars

“What we need is a Marshall Plan for our infrastructure. It’s time to set aside our partisan bickering and come together to develop a real plan to rebuild and repair our nation’s waterways, railways, airways, roads, bridges and broadband, and in turn, put Americans back to work.  As Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said at my forum in Hartford last year, investing in our infrastructure is neither Republican, nor Democrat, it’s American.”


WRRDA will provide a boost to our nation’s water infrastructure by eliminating $18 billion of the Army Corps’ estimated $60 billion backlog, reforming the Army Corps’ broken project approval process, and creating innovative financing mechanisms to get private capital off the sidelines and towards infrastructure.  The measure will move to the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama. 

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) will provide an opportunity for states and municipalities to access much-needed capital for water infrastructure through loan guarantees and low interest loans.  This program is modeled after the U.S. Department of Transportation’s successful TIFIA program, which has spurred $60 billion in transportation investment since its inception.  Earlier this year, Larson joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in writing a letter to the WRRDA conference committee urging the inclusion of WIFIA in the conference report. 

Last year Congressman Larson published an op-ed calling on Congress to take up WRRDA legislation.

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