Nearly $25 million in federal funds assigned for transit, underground storage, job training
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced on Tuesday various allocations of federal funds totaling more than $24.5 million that will allow the government of Puerto Rico, municipalities, non-profit organizations and universities to start or continue their work and service plans.
The U.S. Department of Transportation approved $10 million for the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) to help finance buses and facilities in the transition to less polluting and more energy efficient vehicles.
“Modernizing and upgrading our infrastructure is essential to attract investment, drive economic development and improve our quality of life,” González Colón said in a written statement. “From the [U.S. House] Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which I am a member, I work to ensure that Puerto Rico can count on resources such as this allocation of $10 million to modernize the AMA fleet, adding to the $25 million that we announced last week for improvements to Pier C at the Puerto Nuevo container terminal, which allow us to transform our infrastructure into a resilient and state-of-the-art infrastructure.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meanwhile allocated almost $2.2 million to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources under a program for the development, implementation and effective maintenance of underground storage tanks, leak detection and prevention
The goals of the program include: encouraging owners and operators to properly manage and keep storage tanks underground, to make them aware of the regulations, and to develop a state program that operates in lieu of the federal program.
The bipartisan federal budget agreement for fiscal year 2022, also known as the omnibus, included financing for community projects sought by the resident commissioner. Among them are $116,000 to reinforce public safety in the municipality of Utuado through the purchase of technological equipment including bulletproof vests.
The U.S. Department of Justice awarded another allocation, of $288,426, to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for a residential substance abuse treatment program for state inmates.
The Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce approved two benefit grants for Puerto Rico via the American Rescue Plan Act, the first of which for more than $11.3 million that will go to UnidosUS, a Latino defense and civil rights organization that seeks to boost the economies of Puerto Rico and Denver, Colorado with a focus on empowering the Latino population in both locations. In Puerto Rico, UnidosUS is partnering with the local One Stop Career Center to train residents in the growing construction and aerospace industry.
The second grant, for $587,395, was allocated to the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus to provide advice and technical assistance to 20 non-governmental organizations that support economic development efforts on the island.