Roads, Transit, Internet: What’s in the Infrastructure Bill
By Mary Clare
The $1 trillion infrastructure plan that now goes to President Joe Biden to sign into law has money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more.
The House passed the bipartisan plan Friday night and Biden said Saturday he will hold a signing ceremony when lawmakers return from a week’s recess.
The new law promises to reach almost every corner of the country. It’s a historic investment that the president has compared to the building of the transcontinental railroad and Interstate Highway System. The White House is projecting that the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.
The bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote, ending weeks of intraparty negotiations in which liberal Democrats insisted the legislation be tied to a larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill — an effort to press more moderate Democrats to support both.
The Senate passed the legislation on a 69-30 vote in August after rare bipartisan negotiations, and the House kept that compromise intact. Thirteen House Republicans voted for the bill, giving Democrats more than enough votes to overcome a handful of defections from progressives.
Here’s a breakdown of the bill:
ROADS AND BRIDGES
The bill would provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of America’s highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. And the almost $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.
The $39 billion for public transit in the legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities and provide dollars to state and local governments to buy zero-emission and low-emission buses. The Transportation Department estimates that the current repair backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track and power systems.
PASSENGER AND FREIGHT RAIL
To reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service’s Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes. It’s less than the $80 billion Biden — who famously rode Amtrak from Delaware to Washington during his time in the Senate — originally asked for, but it would be the largest federal investment in passenger rail service since Amtrak was founded 50 years ago.
The bill would spend $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says are critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change. It would also provide $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.
The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.
MODERNIZING THE ELECTRIC GRID
To protect against the power outages that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also boost carbon capture technologies and more environmentally friendly electricity sources like clean hydrogen.
The bill would spend $25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It would also improve aging air traffic control towers.
WATER AND WASTEWATER
The legislation would spend $55 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. It has $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals that were used in the production of Teflon and have also been used in firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and many other items.