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White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu promotes transit funding in Albany

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu were in Albany Monday morning.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan welcomed Landrieu to the Capital Region.

"This is a great day for us to highlight all of the amazing ways that the city of Albany is leading, in ensuring that we are investing infrastructure dollars, the funding that's coming from Washington, in ways that help our community, that build our community, that build a green economy, that take equity and social justice into consideration and all that we're doing,” said Sheehan.

Fellow-Democrats Landrieu and Gillibrand say $25.4 million dollars in federal funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been earmarked for the Capital District Transportation Authority to purchase additional electric buses and charging equipment. Gillibrand praised the investment in green infrastructure.

"Having a clean and efficient bus system is an important component to a thriving and successful community," Gillibrand said. "Buses connect our suburbs to the city, companies to customers, students to schools and workers to jobs. They can reduce exposure to fatal vehicle collisions, and can help reduce the asthma causing pollution and gridlock on our roads. So this investment in this community is crucial. Not only will it improve the Capital District Transportation System, it'll improve air quality for people in this region."

Landrieu, a former New Orleans mayor, says the project will allow CDTA to replace aging diesel-powered buses with energy efficient electric models and expand its charging infrastructure, as the state and nation are slowly weaned off gasoline.

"So as we move into a clean energy economy, think about a couple of things right now," said Landrieu. "And we have to actually build these buses. We're going to change the entire economy of the United States in America with new manufacturing jobs with products that are made in America for these buses. Somebody has got to make the batteries that actually go in the buses. So an entire new group of folks are going to be working all across America, and private industry has already announced billions of dollars in investments that are already coming, since this president has been in office we created 700,000 new manufacturing jobs, because it's just, it was about the end result, it was about giving people the ability to support their families, and to build generational wealth."

Congressman Paul Tonko, also a Democrat, represents the 20th District.

“And we celebrate that $25 million dollar award here this morning, which allows for the greening up of our transportation services in the region," Tonko said. "And it comes after a great investment made in Washington in CDTA. In this CDTA. $42 million that came with the CARES Act, another $28 million that came with the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for COVID. And another $51 million that came with the Rescue Plan. That Rescue Plan effort, along with the one that was made for the CARES Act, was done solely by the Democratic vote.”

Landrieu says adding the electric buses to the fleet will be a real game-changer for local transportation.

"These buses are going to make life a lot easier for everybody else in real time, in specific places, on the ground, where it matters, at the bus stop, in the bus barn, at the executive office, everywhere that we're talking about," said Landrieu.

CDTA CEO Carm Basile:

"The last couple of years have been challenging for all of us, and especially for our workforce," Basile said. "They have been on the job every day. They did not get to take a day off. They can't work remotely. It's pretty hard to do this from the comfort of your living room. I am so grateful for their work, and I want to thank all 750 CDTA employees for everything they do every day."

According to CDTA's website the authority maintains a fleet of 262 buses.

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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