Over the weekend, the Nashua Telegraph published an op-ed by State Representative Laura Telerski on how the bipartisan infrastructure bill, led by Senators Shaheen and Hassan, will make a once-in-a-generation investment in roads and bridges, clean energy, clean water, high-speed internet access, cybersecurity, and passenger rail for New Hampshire. In the piece, Rep. Telerski contrasts Senator Shaheen and Hassan’s success working across the aisle to deliver for New Hampshire with Governor Sununu’s partisan record of opposing infrastructure investments in programs like passenger rail. Read more at the Nashua Telegraph. Nashua Telegraph: Laura Telerski: Shaheen and Hassan are Delivering Needed Infrastructure Investments to New Hampshire By State Representative Laura Telerski Earlier this month, our country took an extraordinary step towards building a stronger, more inclusive economy when the United States Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Because of the leadership of Senators Shaheen and Hassan, our nation is making a once in a generation investment in roads and bridges, clean energy, clean water, high-speed internet access, cybersecurity, and passenger rail.
This legislation will create good-paying jobs while making much-needed improvements across our nation. Here in the Granite State, updating our infrastructure is long overdue. Under Governor Sununu, infrastructure in New Hampshire has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. Last month, CNBC reported that New Hampshire has the 6th worst infrastructure in the entire country. With this bill, Senators Shaheen and Hassan showed that unlike Governor Sununu, they are listening to their constituents and getting results.
This bipartisan bill dedicates $66 billion for rail, and would expand potential rail opportunities through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program. This fund would provide direct loans to develop efficient and eco-friendly rail lines across the country, and will be the largest investment in our nation’s rail system since the creation of Amtrak. In New Hampshire, this could help provide funding opportunities to build commuter rail from Concord to Boston. For years, the Capitol Corridor Project has had widespread public support and if these additional investments are implemented, our state will see positive economic and environmental benefits.
Many Granite Staters are commuters and these investments in our transit systems will make a world of difference for them. Currently our neighbors who use the existing, underfunded public transportation system spend significantly more time getting to work. Non-white commuters are twice as likely to travel via public transportation. We need transportation equity, so every Granite Stater can have a fair shot, and this bill delivers precisely that.
This type of investment in our communities is necessary and long overdue. It will make life easier for New Hampshire’s families who regularly commute or receive medical care from the world-class hospitals in our backyard, and will bring tourists to enjoy the cultural opportunities, attractions, and natural beauty of our state. Expanded rail will remove thousands of cars from our already strained roadways and result in cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It will revitalize and boost our economy by attracting younger residents to our aging state while incentivizing new businesses to locate here.
For the last decade, Governor Sununu has repeatedly worked to block progress on rail development by rejecting federal funding both as an executive councilor and now as governor. In his words, a commuter rail linking Concord to Boston is a “boondoggle” and he even dismissed a train from Boston to Manchester as a “train to nowhere.” But connecting the largest city in New England to the largest cities in our state is no train to nowhere. For the Granite Staters I know here in my city of Nashua, the train is a bridge to economic growth, less time on the bus or in their cars, and more time with their families.
Just as he has opposed developing commuter rail, the Governor is now bashing the bipartisan infrastructure deal passed by the Senate even though it had the support of 19 Republicans. While our Senators collaborated with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put in the work to secure much-needed infrastructure investments, Sununu has been appearing on television and radio sharply criticizing the bill. While other Republican governors like Phil Scott of Vermont and Larry Hogan of Maryland have expressed their support of the bill focusing on the potential opportunities to invest in and improve their states, our governor has doubled down on partisanship at a time when others are finding common ground and making progress.
Granite Staters know that to ensure that more Americans can participate fully and equally in our economy, we need to invest in our infrastructure. And we need leaders who are willing to put in the hard work of forging bipartisan progress so our country can come together to invest in a future that benefits all of us. Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan deserve enormous credit for securing much-needed infrastructure investments that will create jobs in our state, revitalize our communities, and build a more inclusive and equitable economy for all of New Hampshire.
Laura D. Telerski is a New Hampshire State Representative from Hillsborough 35/Nashua 8.