New Yorkers see Biden infrastructure plan as chance at improving transit


NEW YORK — Frequent Long Island Rail Road rider Chris Phillips has been happy with the improvements made to commuter rail, but thinks New York still has a way to go.

“They’re doing infrastructure all over the world and it’s a lot better than ours and we just need to start improving on things,” he said. “The city subways, they need improvement. The roads are horrible, there are bridges I’m leery of when I’m going over them.”

President Joe Biden is proposing more than $600 billion of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan to go to fixing, expanding and modernizing the nation’s transportation system.

“It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Biden said. “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago. In fact, it’s the largest American jobs investment since World War II. It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs.”

The CEOs of both Amtrak and the MTA praised the bill Thursday.

It’s expected to specifically include funds for the long-sought Gateway Tunnel project. Refurbishing and building a new tube under the Hudson River is expected to greatly increase the efficiency of business and commuter travel throughout the tri-state area.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has been a huge proponent of the project.

“New Jersey is a disproportionate winner in any big infrastructure package, period,” Murphy said Wednesday. “We are the densest state in the nation on the northeast corridor, we have a lot of legacy assets, bridges, tunnels, rails.”

Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris hopes the bill will go well beyond ideas of the past.

“In New York City, 75% of our space is devoted to the movement and transport of vehicles, even though a minority of people own cars,” Harris said. “To re-imagine this space, we can do protected bike and bus infrastructure, more open space and really, an opportunity for all New Yorkers to thrive.”

Biden has long promised his plan would have a forward-looking focus on climate change, modernizing the economy and caring for people. To that end, the president’s plan also includes about $200 billion for affordable housing — including money for the New York City Housing Authority. Plus, Biden is proposing around $400 billion to better care for older and disabled Americans, a combined $300 billion to upgrade the nation’s power grid, water and sewer systems and broadband internet.

Finally, there’s about $580 billion for manufacturing, job training and research. Biden suggests paying for the plan in part by changing the cooperate tax rate from 21% to 28% which Republicans recently lowered under President Trump.

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