On August 5, 2021

Federal funds for local projects advance

By Ethan Weinstein

Last Thursday, July 29, the House approved nine of Rep. Peter Welch’s community projects to be included in FY22 Appropriations bills, including nearly $1.7 million for the Vermont Farmers Food Center. While the funds still require further approval in the Senate, it is a big step toward their eventual allocation.

“From investing in a food-oriented business incubator that could create more than 50 jobs and revitalize Rutland County’s agricultural center, to funding the construction of Vermont’s first mass timber building, which would allow a beloved local museum in St. Johnsbury to make science more accessible to all — these projects will impact communities across the state. This is a critical first step and I will continue to push for this funding to be included as the bill moves to the Senate and hopefully signed into law,” said Welch.

Earlier in July, the House passed the INVEST in America Act, a $715 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $7.6 million to fund upgrades to the Quechee Gorge bridge in Hartford.

The 110-year-old bridge spans Route 4 and sees frequent automotive and pedestrian use. Upgrades would include a new safety fence, structural repairs, and nearly doubling the width of the sidewalks.

“The funding will not have to come directly from the residents here; it will come from the federal government, which is great because the project will happen sooner than it was expected to,” said Dan Fraser, the chair of the Hartford Select Board.

The INVEST in America Act is currently awaiting Senate approval.

These potential funds were made possible by the return of earmarks — an oft-villified process through which congresspeople designate federal funds to support projects relevant to their constituency. Congress abandoned its decade-long ban on earmarks this year, and Vermonters could soon reap the benefits of that repeal, according to the Vermont delegation.

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