Charles E. Schumer

11/30/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2021 12:22



Historically, Many Highways Have Been Built Through Economically Disadvantaged Areas, Displacing Residents & Isolating Communities; Projects Like I-81 Redevelopment In Syracuse, Inner Loop In Rochester, Rts 33 and 198 In Buffalo, I-787 In Albany, LINC In New Rochelle, Could Receive Support Under Senators' Plan

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Will Begin To Address The Legacy Of Systemic Racism In Highway Construction Fracturing Many Communities Of Color And Low-Income Communities

Schumer, Gillibrand: $1 Billion "Reconnecting Communities Fund" Will Bring Economic Opportunity To Cities Across Upstate NY; Senators Push To Plus-Up Funding With Billions Of Additional Dollars In BBB

Following the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act being signed into law, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the final bill includes key provisions the senators fought for in a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The senators said the bill will invest a historic $1 billion in efforts such as construction, planning, and community engagement to expand economic opportunity and address environmental hazards like air pollution in communities across New York and the country by reconnecting and revitalizing areas that were harmed by the disruptive construction of highways through neighborhoods.

The lawmakers explained that too often past transportation and highway construction upended communities, especially low-income areas and communities of color, displacing residents, hurting local businesses, and splintering neighborhoods, all while having devastating effects on the health of the community, including high rates of asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infections and other illnesses because of the significant amount of pollution emitted from vehicles traveling. Schumer and Gillibrand said that it is long past due for dedicated federal investment into these communities negatively impacted by highways.

"In Upstate New York and across the country, highways like Syracuse's I-81, Buffalo's Kensington and Scajaquada Expressways, Rochester's Inner Loop, Albany's I-787, and highways that cut through New Rochelle have too often been built through low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, dividing cities, limiting investment for the people most in need, and devastating community health with concentrated air pollutants from vehicles traveling," said Senator Schumer. "Infrastructure should build up communities, not divide them. The bipartisan infrastructure deal is long overdue investment to revitalize and reconnect communities that have been neglected for far too long. I am continuing to fight tooth and nail to provide billions of dollars more in investment for these projects in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. "

"Poorly planned highway projects have cut through the heart of cities and communities throughout New York State and the nation, tearing apart neighborhoods, displacing residents, and stalling economic development," said Senator Gillibrand. "I am proud to have fought for this historic investment that will begin to reverse these injustices and will continue working to improve our infrastructure, revitalize our communities, and help New York build back with a focus on racial equity and inclusion."

In addition, the bill also includes $7.5 billion in new funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER, which many projects like I-81 in Syracuse, Inner Loop in Rochester, I-33 in Buffalo, I-787 in Albany could also tap into for revitalization projects. Schumer and Gillibrand said they are also fighting for billions of dollars in additional funding to address the needs of these projects in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill also includes provisions Schumer and Gillibrand advocated for to bolster local hire programs that would allow state and local governments to use targeted hiring to connect local workers and businesses - especially in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities - to new opportunities on federally-funded transportation infrastructure projects, including those supported by the Reconnecting Communities Program. The local hire provisions will ensure additional steps are taken to provide high-quality job and business opportunities to residents of communities negatively impacted by past infrastructure investments.

Schumer and Gillibrand led the introduction of the Reconnecting Communities Act earlier this year. Local hire and federal resources to rebuild local communities were also central provisions of the Economic Justice Act, legislation that Schumer and Gillibrand introduced last year to invest more than $435 billion to address systemic racism and underinvestment in communities of color. Additionally, Senator Gillibrand introduced in 2021 the Build Local, Hire Local Act, legislation that makes bold reforms to federal infrastructure programs, creates good-paying jobs, and works to right the wrongs of decades of disinvestment and exclusionary federal policies that have cut off communities of color and marginalized populations from opportunity in urban and rural areas alike.