Breaking News
More () »

What does the infrastructure bill mean for Western New York?

While less than the original proposal, the bill sets aside money for everything from airports to the replacement of lead pipes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — While the infrastructure bill proposal includes a lot less spending than what the Biden administration originally proposed, there are still projects included that would benefit our region.

The original American Jobs Plan proposed by the White House in March had a roughly $2 trillion price tag. This bill proposes spending about half that.

Senator Chuck Schumer's office released some information on Thursday showing some of what's included - $37.5 million dollars for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, $7.5 million for Niagara Falls International, and less for our smaller airports.

Billions of dollars to protect our drinking water and upgrade our sewers, including money to replace lead pipes, are also included.

Schumer is the majority leader, so how will that impact Western New York?

For more information about that, we talked with the Washington Bureau Chief for the Buffalo News, Jerry Zremski.

"We are very well positioned to get at least a fair share of money, but the question is, is there enough money to go around in each of these categories, and that really remains to be seen. At the same time, it should be said, there are some very historic investments here even $55 billion in clean water infrastructure for replacing those lead pipes, that's unprecedented. The money for mass transit is lower than what Joe Biden wanted, but it's still unprecedented, so is the money for rail. So there's a lot of money out there," Zremski says.

The money to replace lead pipes was chopped almost in half, so we don't know yet which places would benefit from that project.

The removal of a section of the Kensington Expressway which divides Buffalo is also up in the air. There's been so much talk about that for years, and it's such a huge project to convert it into a parkway. It'll take a lot of time and a lot of money.

In the original proposal, there was $20 billion earmarked to reunite neighborhoods that had been divided by infrastructure projects in the past.

"That front has been winnowed down to one-billion dollars in this compromise. It's the same as in the original version of the compromise a month ago. Now, does that mean that the Kensington project won't happen? No. There is another pot of money in the bill. It's a $17.5 billion pot of money that aims to fund transformative projects that are too expensive to fit into the typical highway funding project structure. So it is conceivable that the funding from the Kensington could come out of that pot, but still, it's a smaller pot, and it's probably going to be a more competitive program as well," says Zremski.

But there is good news, he says there are a lot of other projects included that will help Western New Yorkers. Money for ports, border improvements, work for the Army Corps of Engineers to keep our water clean, and more.