Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated “infrastructure week” without ever agreeing to build infrastructure.
This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for the nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads.
This legislation aims to:
Deliver Clean Water to All American Families and Eliminate the Nation’s Lead Service Lines
Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and childcare centers lack safe drinking water. The bill will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and childcare centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the legislation will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
Ensure Every American has Access to Reliable High-Speed Internet
Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The bill will deliver $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet through investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation will also help lower prices for internet service and help close the digital divide, so that more Americans can afford internet access.
Repair and Rebuild Roads and Bridges with a Focus on Climate Change Mitigation, Resilience, Equity, and Safety for All Users
In the United States, 1 in 5 miles of highways and major roads, and 45,000 bridges, are in poor condition. The legislation will reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years and invest $110 billion in additional funding to repair roads and bridges and support major, transformational projects. The bill makes the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing the nation’s bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country, as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also includes the first ever Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities, which claimed more than 20,000 lives in the first half of 2021.
Improve Transportation Options and Reduce Greenhouse Emissions Through Investment in Public Transit
America’s public transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. Communities of color are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options. The transportation sector in the United States is now the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation includes $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. In total, the new investments and reauthorization in the bill provide $89.9 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over the next five years — the largest Federal investment in public transit in history. The legislation will expand public transit options across every state in the country, replace thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Upgrade Airports and Ports to Strengthen Supply Chains and Prevent Disruptions
This will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs, and reduce emissions. Decades of neglect and underinvestment in infrastructure have left the links in the goods movement supply chains struggling to keep up with strong economic recovery from the pandemic. The bill will make the fundamental changes that are long overdue for the nation’s ports and airports so this will not happen again. The United States built modern aviation, but airports lag far behind other countries. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide.
Ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The legislation invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and waterways and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies.
Make the Largest Investment in Passenger Rail Since the Creation of Amtrak
U.S. passenger rail lags behind the rest of the world in reliability, speed, and coverage. China already has 22,000 miles of high-speed rail, and is planning to double that by 2035. The legislation positions rail to play a central role in the transportation and economic future, investing $66 billion in additional rail funding to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation, 50 years ago and will create safe, efficient, and climate-friendly alternatives for moving people and freight.
Build a National Network of Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers
U.S. market share of plug-in EV sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. That needs to change. The legislation will invest $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers in the United States. The legislation will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. This investment will support President Joe Biden’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and create good-paying jobs across the country.
Upgrade Power Infrastructure to Deliver Clean, Reliable Energy and Deploy Cutting-Edge Energy Technology to Achieve a Zero-Emissions Future
According to the Department of Energy, power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The bill’s more than $65 billion investment includes the largest investment in clean energy transmission and grid in American history. It will upgrade power infrastructure, by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewables and clean energy, while lowering costs. And it will fund new programs to support the development, demonstration, and deployment of cutting-edge clean energy technologies to accelerate the transition to a zero-emission economy.
Make Infrastructure Resilient Against the Impacts of Climate Change, Cyber-Attacks, and Extreme Weather Events
Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. The legislation makes communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, floods, and wildfires, in addition to a major investment in weatherization.
Deliver the Largest Investment in Tackling Legacy Pollution in American History by Cleaning Up Superfund and Brownfield Sites, Reclaiming Abandoned Mines, and Capping Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells
In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. The bill will invest $21 billion clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells.
Information for this article was supplied from the White House at whitehouse.gov/ bipartisan-infrastructure-deal/
This material appears in the December 2021 issues of the ACP Magazines:
California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder