Gov. Lamont visited the Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters in Newington on Wednesday to tour the building, meet with staff and discuss the influx of federal funding that will be used to address the state’s infrastructure needs.
In November of last year, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which dedicated $1 trillion to the nation’s infrastructure. Of that $1 trillion, Connecticut will be receiving $5.38 billion over the next five years to invest in repairing roads and bridges, enhancing public transportation and expanding broadband coverage, among other initiatives.
In addition to the federal funds already earmarked for Connecticut, there will be $30 billion in grants for the Northeast Corridor and $100 billion in nationwide grants up for grabs.
“It’s really important that we get this right,” Gov. Lamont said.”And first and foremost in terms of getting it right is making sure that we’re at the front of the line for the billions of dollars of competitive grants that are going to be coming our way.”
Gov. Lamont stressed that the coming years will be the most transformative years for infrastructure in Connecticut since Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956.
“I think this will be the most important five years for the Department of Transportation for our state, certainly since Ike [Eisenhower],” Gov. Lamont said. “This infrastructure money is going to be transformative for the state where transportation and our location are our most important strategic advantages going forward.”
DOT Deputy Commissioner Mark D. Rolfe also addressed the coming wave of retirements and the department’s need to bring in approximately 700 new hires, specifically engineers.
“We have hundreds of vacancies, if you can name a position at DOT, we’re probably hiring into that position right now,” Rolfe said. “So recruiting is important, retention is important, building our staff is key to our success.”
Gov. Lamont said the three-year SEBAC agreement that the state’s legislature intends to pass, which includes raises and bonuses for state employees, is the state’s way of trying to keep state jobs attractive and competitive as the DOT looks to fill vacancies.
“We value you, we need you here,” Gov. Lamont said. “If you have any friends who are into design, engineering, construction, transportation, whatever it may be, tell them we want to hire them right here.”