The additional money NJT will receive will go towards the agency’s existing $17 billion five-year capital plan, which was based on an assessment of all of NJT’s assets and facilities. “The five-year plan is mainly focused on maintaining a state of good repair. Federal funding is part of that, while the balance comes from the Transportation Trust Fund and other state revenue sources,” Corbett said.
NJT’s needs are many and the capital plan includes the rehabilitation of stations and the modernization of buses, wagons, rails and electrical substations.
Corbett’s says its biggest priority is the $2 billion replacement of the Portal North Bridge over the Hackensack River in Kearny and Secaucus, which will is an important part of the Gateway Tunnel project. The Portal North Bridge replacement, funded by the US Department of Transportation, NJT and Amtrak, is expected to begin soon and be completed within five years.
The gateway project
For the $12.3 billionOn the Gateway Project, Rehabilitating Two 110-Year-Old Railroad Tunnels Under the Hudson River in Manhattan and Creating Two Additional New Tunnels, IIJA Doubles Federal Capital Investment Grant Amounts (CIG), from $1.6 billion to $3 billion, for which the project will be in the running, according to Stephen Sigmund, spokesman for the Gateway Development Commission.
Total funding for the project includes $1.4 billion from Amtrak and $6 billion from New Jersey and New York through long-term rail infrastructure loans. The federal part of the project was $5.6 billion. With the extra money in the CIG program, “Our demand has been reduced to half of the total credits…that’s a big advantage”, said Sigmund.
Full financing for the project could be in place by the end of the year, with construction beginning in the summer of 2023. If all goes well, the project should be completed by 2035.
Through the IIJA, the state will also receiveg $1.14 billion to replace or repair some 500 bridges in poor condition. This equates to $229.4 million every year for five years.
Nationally, the IIJA is making $40 billion available for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.
According to Ray PocinoVice President and Eastern Regional Director of the Workers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the $1.14 billion spent on New Jersey’s bridges is expected to create some 15,000 construction jobs.
Also, the IIJA is myking $15 billion available to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, of which New Jersey is set to receive $104 million over the next five years. In March, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the state will rwill receive $15.4 million as the first installment, and additional funds will be secured through competitive grants.
At a recent press conference in Asbury Park announcing the first batch of federal funds for the state, Pallone said the IIJA funding is a major move forward in the transition to a clean economy that will create jobs and fight climate change.
New Jersey currently has some 30,000 vehicles on the road, but it is far from reaching its goal of having 300,000 zero-emission vehicles. operational by 2025.
According to NJBIA’s Cantor, 40% of New Jersey’s carbon emissions come from the transportation sector. “So you’re not going to solve the [greenhouse gas] problem unless you address transportation,” he says. To do this, robust electricityA grid needs to be in place to provide that energy and that could require doubling the amount of power generation in the state, Cantor says.
NJT entered this arena with recent purchases of eight zero-emission buses that will be part of a limited depinvestment in the Camden area. The transit agency’s goal is to have a 100% zero-emission bus fleet by 2040.
It is clear that the IIJA’s impact on the state’s transportation sector will be significant. The cash injection is badly neededd because 37% of national roads and more than 500 bridges are considered structurally deficient. As with the country as a whole, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a C- rating in 2021.
“If we don’t have a modern and efficient transport systemem, it will have a negative effect on the economy, the environment and people’s quality of life,” says NJT’s Corbett.
According to Kimmerle, “The IIJA has the potential to change our world. Hopefully this will be done with forethought and coordination… so that we are not going to do everything again another 30 years from now on.”
The need for skills Workers as infrastructure Projects abound
However, will there be enough skilled workers to build this infrastructure when the building trades are experiencing a labor shortage?
“We to have to make sure the manpower is in place. It don’t mean nothing to have the money and the scamleaflets if there aren’t enough workers available to put shovels in the ground,” says Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
Cantor says the state has had a shortage of construction workersul years ago when part of the New Jersey Turnpike was enlarged. Workers from out of state were brought in to supplement the project workers. “Now, with other states receiving their share of the IIJA money and pursuing projects, construction workers in New Jersey may not be a viable option this time around,” says Cantor.
According to Cyndie Williams, Executive Director of the Carpenter Contractor Trust (CCT), the IIJA presents “a great opportunity for people looking to get into the business”.are. These infrastructure funds will create jobs and a stable pool of jobs for years to come.
CCT currently offers high school students opportunities through the Carpenters Apprenticeship’s Career Connections program, which introduces students to carpentry trades. EThis gives them a solid knowledge base when entering the formal apprenticeship program.
“What makes this an exceptional opportunity is that high school students can learn a life-changing career in their backyard and graduate from an apprenticeship program.ram with zero student debt,” Williams says.
The Carpenter Apprenticeship also launched the Carpenter Apprentice Readiness Program last March. It offers community members looking for a new career an opportunity in the trades through a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program.gram which takes place on Saturday.
Williams says that, overall, “investment in infrastructure is there to help working-class families. This means that taxpayer-funded money for these projects must include the safest, most skilled and most productive.tive workers available. This should also include fair wages and benefits for workers building these projects. »
Ia recent survey Kimmerle conducted with the United States Association of Mayors of 1,320 communities nationwide, it found a common and overarching theme: Mayors are equally concerned about water infrastructure,sustainable housing, schools and health facilities, that just transport infrastructure.
In his survey, titled “Infrastructure Priorities from a Local Perspective” Kimmerle also discovered that “the blue and red state divide that the media tells us exists, dissolve. Every community at every scale seeks the same type of social and community level investments. »
He says that of the IIJA’s $1.2 trillion, $700 billion will be used for previously authorized funding that has been lined up for years by various agencies. However, around $200 billion is associated with unawarded competitive grants where communities are asked to prioritize their capital needs and develop project pipelines for things that were previously considered impossible due to to a lack of funding.
Because the money will be made available to the communities, Kimmerle says, “Cities will not be as dependent on developer ‘scholarships’ as they have been in the past. Most communities had to compromise for reorganizedevelopment activities were happening because they didn’t have the money to do it themselves. They had to make concessions to developers, perhaps in the form of tax breaks, higher density planning, less affordable housing and other things that would not havewas granted, ” Kimmerle Explain.
“So the whole way that redevelopment unfolds is going to be impacted by those infrastructure dollars, because that would give cities the means to build whatever they want with a mix of uses that makes smeaningful to them,” he says.
With solid experience in urban planning and redevelopment policy, Kimmerle and his firm are partnering with engineering and law firms to set up programs that will help communities have a vision work; set priorities, estimating fees and assist them in the grant application writing process.
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