WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan hosted a virtual roundtable with New Hampshire leaders to discuss how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help New Hampshire communities. Senator Hassan was joined by New Hampshire community leaders and stakeholders who spoke about the need for infrastructure investments.
“We have been working to get this bipartisan infrastructure bill over the finish line. And that’s because of the importance of investing in infrastructure -- it is at the core of setting a strong foundation for future economic growth,” said Senator Hassan today. “We’re moving forward on this bipartisan infrastructure package that’s going to restore the country’s infrastructure, create jobs, and grow our economy. I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to negotiate this package, and I’ve brought a Granite State lens to the discussion, working to include key priorities that people in New Hampshire have been talking to me about for years.”
Senator Hassan was one of the 22 original negotiators of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and continues to work with her colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill. The event’s participants, which included New Hampshire leaders from across the state, shared how this bipartisan infrastructure package will help Granite Staters thrive.
First, the bipartisan package includes a number of different programs that could help to expand passenger rail in New Hampshire. For instance, the package has significant funding for Amtrak, including for developing new routes and corridors – which could result in another Amtrak route in New Hampshire. There are also a number of programs that states can apply for, and Senator Hassan successfully pushed for additional funding and flexibility that could make projects like the proposed Capitol Corridor – which would connect Nashua, Manchester, and Concord to Boston by rail – more competitive for federal support.
Tim Cummings, Director of Economic Development for the City of Nashua, said that an expansion of passenger rail would “take the stress off of the highways and provide that connectivity that we know that our citizens want and have asked for, which will make us more attractive to bring businesses and help businesses expand here.”
“I’m excited actually about so many parts of this legislation. I could talk all day,” said Jay Minkarah, Executive Director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission (RPC). He specifically highlighted how a Merrimack project the RPC recently did “brought home to [him] the vulnerability of our infrastructure at a time when we are pretty clearly facing more severe storm events, both in frequency and intensity.”
Mike Smith, President of the NH Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke about “the amount of people that the building trades represent – thousands of people in New Hampshire – who will go to work on these projects, making good benefits and good wages, being able to support their families. And the key to that is having disposable income left over at the end of paying their bills and their car payments and their insurance, so that they can go to the business in the community, so that they can go out and spend money, creating a further need for more employees and employers and businesses start popping up and growing.”
The bipartisan package also includes $42.45 billion dollars for broadband deployment, including a guaranteed minimum of $100 million for the deployment of high-speed internet to homes in New Hampshire. Carole Monroe from the Dublin Broadband Committee shared that “We really do need to get to that last house on the last road, and make [broadband] universal, just like any other utility… It has to be accessible to every premise and business in New Hampshire, and it has to be affordable.” Overall, the package invests $65 billion to expand high-speed internet access and make it more affordable.
Senator Hassan and Erik Chapman, Director of the NH Sea Grant at the University of New Hampshire, also discussed the importance of the coastal resiliency funding in the package. Chapman shared that “Billions of dollars of property value are at risk, roads and infrastructure are at risk, municipal, state, and other high community value facilities are at risk, thousands of acres of conservation land… is at risk” due to increased storm intensity, sea level rise, tidal flooding, and other environmental factors. Senator Hassan successfully led efforts to secure significant federal funding in the package to strengthen coastal resiliency efforts for coastal communities in New Hampshire and across the country.
John Boisvert, Chief Engineer at Pennichuck Water Works, spoke about how investments in water infrastructure address contamination, including from PFAS, and help more Granite Staters have clean drinking water: “This is a game changer. This allows the state of New Hampshire to really address a widespread issue.”
The bipartisan bill will invest $54 billion for water infrastructure, including $10 billion specifically to address PFAS contamination. Senator Hassan’s amendment to the Advanced Drinking Water Technology Grant Program was included in the package to better ensure that New Hampshire towns would be eligible for an advanced technology grant program that can be used to remove PFAS from drinking water.
Sam Evans-Brown, Executive Director at Clean Energy NH, shared that the bill’s “intra-state investment, which is where we’re really focused, is ensuring that we are able to create the grid of tomorrow.”
The bill will invest $73 billion in clean energy transmission, including new transmission lines and smart grid technologies. It also supports domestic battery energy storage development and deployment, technology needed to increase the use of renewable energy sources and eliminate reliability gaps throughout the day. These provisions build on Senator Hassan’s bipartisan Battery Storage Innovation Act – which was signed into law as part of the December government funding package.