House Approves Capital Bill With Focus On Irene Damage

Apr 4, 2013

The House has unanimously approved a two-year capital construction bill that solidifies a commitment to rebuild the Waterbury state office complex devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

The bill includes $173 million in spending, with close to $70 million set aside for Irene-related projects.

This is the second legislative session that lawmakers have crafted a two-year spending cycle for state construction projects. And a top priority remains repairing or replacing buildings damaged by the floodwaters of Irene.

Springfield Democrat Alice Emmons is chairwoman of the House Institutions Committee. She says the legislation will improve the state’s infrastructure, and provide needed employment for the construction trades. She says her committee scoured the capital budget to find money that had not yet been spent or was left over from earlier projects.

“We have found $5.6 million, almost $5.7 million to put back into our state economy,” Emmons says. “Those dollars were lying fallow. They were not being used, and now they will be used in our economy to employ our contractors, our builders, our electricians and our plumbers.”

About $70 million will go to projects related to Irene. These include replacing the flooded state hospital, rebuilding the Waterbury complex and new offices for state workers at the National Life Building in Montpelier.

The bill sets aside $56 million for Waterbury, even though the total cost is expected to be around $125 million. The difference is expected to come from insurance payments and from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Ripton Democrat Willem Jewett says the Waterbury piece represents the state’s commitment to the town and the region.

“The Waterbury complex is not just about bricks and mortar,” Jewett says. “That’s about keeping faith with the people of Waterbury, about returning workers to the town of Waterbury—and that’s important.”