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 Following Visit To Syracuse With Secretary Buttigieg, Senators Pushed For Once-In-A-Generation Federal Investment Into American Infrastructure To Prioritize Projects Like I-81

Senators Say Bipartisan Deal Will Connect Local Workers To Good Jobs, Help Reconnect Neighborhoods And Provide New Funding For The I-81 Project

Schumer, Gillibrand: CNY Dreams—and Local Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! — Can Now Become Reality

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed Friday by the House, included their critical language to bolster local hire programs that would allow state and local governments to use targeted hiring programs to connect local workers and businesses – especially in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities – to new opportunities on federally-funded transportation infrastructure projects. This provision includes support for the federal government, states, localities, labor, and community organizations to work together to offer training through pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs to expand access to new job opportunities for local residents on construction projects funded by U.S. Department of Transportation programs. Additionally, the final bill includes a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure, in addition to $11.5B in new highway funding for New York State.

“Local jobs, jobs, jobs are the top three reasons the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is great news for Syracuse and Central New York. As Central New York embarks on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform and revitalize I-81 in Syracuse, it is critical that these investments support good-paying jobs with a focus on local residents and help reconnect communities previously divided by highways,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I fought so hard to include a permanent local hire program and investments to reconnect communities while leading negotiations for the soon to be law bipartisan infrastructure deal. This legislation will ensure I-81 has the funding it needs to revitalize Syracuse and connect local workers to good paying jobs.”

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will do more than invest in our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges – it will also help rebuild communities left behind by the failed federal policies of the past,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By connecting local businesses and workers in disadvantaged communities with good-paying jobs on federal infrastructure projects, the local hire provision will ensure that job opportunities remain in the communities they affect. With this provision, we can begin to undo the legacy of past infrastructure projects that harmed underserved communities in Syracuse, Buffalo, and cities nationwide. I am proud to have fought for its inclusion in this once-in-a-generation bill.”

The transformation of I-81 in Syracuse and other major transportation projects across New York and nationwide will benefit from several programs included in the infrastructure bill which passed the House and now awaits the President’s signature, including $11.5 billion for New York in new highway funding for New York State, $7.5 billion in new funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program which I-81 will be eligible for, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER. The bipartisan infrastructure deal also creates the Reconnecting Communities program, a first of its kind program dedicated to helping advance projects like transforming Syracuse’s I-81 into a community grid. 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.

Schumer and Gillibrand have been vocal advocates of the need for local hire and other targeted hiring programs as part of federally funded construction. In June of this year, the senators visited I-81 in Syracuse with Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg where they pushed to make permanent an expansion of the local hire pilot program in this bipartisan infrastructure deal and to create the Reconnecting Communities program. In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) heeded the senators’ calls to implement a temporary local hire pilot program for highway projects. 

The senators explained that on March 31st, the Biden Administration unveiled the American Jobs Plan, which was a predecessor of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, and called for ‘reimagining and rebuilding’ a new economy. The Plan included a direct mention of Syracuse’s I-81 as one example of a project that would aim to reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and increase opportunity, including through the use of local hire jobs programs and initiatives to advance racial equity and environmental justice.

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 the Build Local, Hire Local Act in 2019, 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.