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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,100
November 10, 2021
The New Infrastructure Law
By Mike McManus

President Joe Biden deserves the nation's thanks for Congressional passage of his $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Law. It is designed to upgrade America's roads, bridges, ports, pipes, Broadband and other public works.

It is the most important Infrastructure law since President Dwight Eisenhower began construction of Interstate Highways. Almost half of the $1.2 trillion is funding investments in transportation, utilities and pollution remedies.

Transportation will get a $284 billion boost - $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for railroads, $38 billion for public transit, $26 billion for airports, $17 billion for ports and $15 billion for electric vehicles.

Some $240 billion is earmarked for utilities such as power infrastructure, $65 billion for Broadband, $55 billion for water infrastructure.

Road Safety has $118 billion earmarked that includes $18 billion to Reconnect Communities and $21 billion for Pollution Remediation, and $8 billion for western water infrastructure.

What surprised me was the vote by 13 Republican Congressmen in favor of the bill while seven Democrats voted against it.

The new law is far less than the $2.3 trillion Biden initially asked for last spring.. But it is still a significant amount of new funding for the next five years. Senators like to call it a $1.2 trillion package because they are also counting funding that is normally allotted each year for highways and other projects.

How many jobs will be created? Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimates the growth of 660,000 jobs by 2025. Construction has been one of few industries with slow job growth in recent months. The bill includes funding and provisions to get more job training programs started and to hire more women in construction and trucking industries.

The biggest ticket item in the bill is $110 billion for building and repairing roads and bridges across the country. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were both instrumental in crafting the bipartisan plan, and it is notable that the bill includes specific funding earmarked for Appalachian and Alaskan highways.

There is also funding for "transportation research at universities, funding for Puerto Rican highways and money for congestion relief" efforts in cities.

Railroads will get $66 billion. Substantial funding is earmarked for the Northeast Corridor, the heavily traveled route from Boston to Washington DC. However, some were disappointed that no funds were set aside for High Speed Rail like other countries.

The plan has $65 billion to improve the Power Grid - updates for older power lines and cables and investments to ensure that the Power Grid is not hacked. As part of the bill's efforts to address climate change, the power grid section also has funding to support the development and adaptation of clean-energy technology.

Some $65 billion is earmarked to expand Broadband in rural areas and low-income communities. This has been a bipartisan priority for years, but the White House estimates that about 30 million Americans still do not have reliable Internet access, which became a major issue for schooling and work during the pandemic. About $14 billion will go toward making monthly Internet bills more affordable to low-income Americans.

Some $55 billion will improve water pipes including $15 billion for replacing lead pipes and $10 billion to clear up man-made chemicals. plus funds to provide clean drinking water in tribal communities.

There is also $47 billion to improve cybersecurity and climate change mitigation.

Public Transit will get $39 billion to replace buses, subways and rail cars that are in poor shape. There is also money for new US routes and making public transit fares
accessible to seniors.

A major Biden goal is to strengthen the shift to electric vehicles. There is $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations. The United States has about 43,000 charging stations at present. Biden has set a goal of having half of new cars be electric by 2030, which will require significantly more charging stations across the nation. The bill also adds $7.5 billion to replace existing school buses with zero emissions buses. Specific funding is set aside to help lower income, rural and tribal communities replace their bus fleets.

There is even money for states to enforce laws that ban open alcoholic beverages in cars and a provision allowing states to use some of their funding for recreational trails, and even money to expand a "healthy streets program" to provide tree cover to mitigate urban heat.

The law is a healthy step in the right direction benefitting all American citizens. As Dwight Eisenhower said, "Plans are nothing. Planning is everything." Biden deserves our gratitude.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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