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At last: Huge infrastructure bill gets signed into law

Road grader-Blue Sky Brown Road g4021048ed_640It’s a great occasion. President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law today.

People in the United States should be dancing in the streets.

The U.S. has had a huge infrastructure deficit for decades. It was shocking to learn when I worked for a community development agency in Washington that the state had an infrastructure deficit of millions of dollars.

In the years I worked for the agency, the problem continued to get worse. Even when the state passed the Growth Management Act in 1990, which gave new mechanisms to local governments to solve their infrastructure problems, little was done.

Rather than raising taxes to build adequate roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, local officials accepted a level of service for them of “D” and “F,” a rating system they were required to use under the new GMA.

Nationally from 2003 to 2017, federal infrastructure spending dropped more than 20 percent, and negatively affected those who rely on the nation’s highways, roads, bridges, transit, and water and wastewater systems, according to the American Public Works Association.

The infrastructure act adds $559 billion to the federal government’s average annual investment of $650 billion and addresses transportation, water, and emergency management including authorizing:

  • $273.2 billion in increased spending over five years for federal highway programs.
  • $11 billion for road safety.
  • $7.3 billion for a new program to make infrastructure more resilient to storms and natural disasters.
  • $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • $5 billion for a small and disadvantaged communities drinking water grant program to deal with emerging contaminants.
  • $1 billion for a grant program – FY 2022 through FY 2025 – to help states, tribal governments, and multistate governments address cybersecurity threats.
  • $3.5 billion for the National Flood Insurance Fund for flood mitigation assistance.

In addition, the act requires agencies to coordinate reviews and set a goal for completing environmental reviews within two years.

The infrastructure act is a once-in-a-generation investment to create good-paying jobs, modernize infrastructure, and turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, President Biden said prior to the signing. 

Biden said it will transform the nation’s transportation system, replace lead water pipes, provide high-speed, affordable internet, invest in environmental cleanup and remediation, and rebuild resilience against climate change.

“By investing in our roads, our bridges, our ports, and so much else, this bill is going to make it easier for companies to get goods to market more quickly,” he said.

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