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As Infrastructure Package Moves Ahead, Long List Of Projects For New York’s Capital Region

Congressman Paul Tonko in his Albany office (August 1, 2021)
Dave Lucas
Congressman Paul Tonko in his Albany office (August 1, 2021)

U.S. Senators have unveiled their $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. New York Congressman Paul Tonko and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy have high expectations as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bill could be passed "in a matter of days."

The 2,700-page Invest In America Act is a key part of President Joe Biden's agenda. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years. Tonko is a Democrat from the 20th district:

"If we're going to compete, compete effectively, robustly, we need this infrastructure improvement. We can't go without it. And it's imperative that we are the winners in this innovation economy worldwide, the worldwide scale."

McCoy, also a Democrat, is President of The County Executives of America, a national bipartisan coalition of more than 700 elected officials. Applauding the work of the Senators involved in infrastructure bill negotiations, McCoy says he "can't thank Schumer enough" for supporting it.

"It's not sexy to talk about fixing sewer systems or bridges or COVID, things you don't see, but have a vital, stop the floods, stop the mudslides, stop bridges from washing out, or roads washing out. And this is really in most importantly, it's make our roads safer and our infrastructure safer and our airports safer. But it's going to put men and women to work and a lot of unions to work in getting this done."

Tonko, who recently toured the Capital Region as part of a local infrastructure week, says the House has advanced 10 local community projects he's been pushing to get into the federal budget.

"...including what I hope will be transformative investments. Essential systems, building innovative energy, infrastructure, and powerful programs that can lift our communities, our economy, and so many other factors that empower us. This process has been extremely competitive, and requires deep and sustained collaboration with countless leaders and stakeholders, and that work is paying off. I thank all of our community leaders who have helped with these community projects, they fed us the information that made our arguments strong. And again, we're very proud of the fact that we accomplished 10 of 10."

The projects will bring $14.5 million dollars to the Capital Region. Amid concerns about inflation, Tonko hopes delivery of the funding will be expeditious.

"You know, we're gonna want these dollars to go out the door as soon as the budget is completed. And so I think that we'll be ahead of that curve. I think it's important for us to realize that while these address important needs out there, or quality of life, another benefit/asset of these investments is it puts people to work in sound paying jobs. And the same is true with the climate challenge, we will put people to work in jobs that are not yet on the radar screen. So there's a lot of opportunity from research to engineering and design, to maintenance, installation maintenance. So it goes from, you know, white collar to blue collar work activity of a special kind."

The Associated Press reports Schumer repeatedly warned lawmakers that he is prepared to keep them in Washington for as long as it takes to complete votes on both the bipartisan infrastructure plan and a budget blueprint that would allow the Senate to begin work later this year on a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” package.


Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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