More Than a Weak Week: Biden Touts ‘Infrastructure Decade’
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President Joe Biden, seeking another four years in office, stopped by the Badger State recently to tout his infrastructure bona fides.
His administration, as a result of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, is helping commuters arrive at their destinations safely. The law also is responding to growing concerns about climate change. And many of its newly established programs are credited with improving connectivity across freight supply chains and expediting access to emerging vehicle technologies.
Speaking before supporters in Superior, Wis., on Jan. 25, Biden indicated he had something big to say. He announced nearly $5 billion for economically significant and transformational infrastructure projects. Expanding parking facilities for the women and men who drive commercial trucks was included in this new tranche of funds.
The 10-year bipartisan infrastructure law has become Biden’s premier transportation policy achievement during his tenure.
In the spirit of a presidential election season, the incumbent took aim at his political opponent, former President Donald Trump. For nearly four years, the former president’s attempts at an “infrastructure week” ended up becoming Beltway boffola. Biden, as he is informing everyone, followed through on a much longer “infrastructure week.”
“On my watch, instead of ‘Infrastructure Week,’ America is having an ‘Infrastructure Decade,’ ” the president declared in Wisconsin. “Look, we’re rebuilding factories, and jobs are coming back to America.” An election debate between Biden and Trump that includes domestic infrastructure policy is becoming a real possibility. The president suggested infrastructure investments will become routine during this election year. More from Biden: “This funding is part of a larger $5 billion investment led by the Department of Transportation for 37 major projects across America, including bridges, highways, ports, airports. To date, 40,000 infrastructure … projects have been announced all across America.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, tasked with managing IIJA’s implementation, endorsed the president’s remarks.
“With this announcement, we are advancing projects so large, complex and ambitious that they could not get funded under the infrastructure programs that existed prior to the Biden administration,” said Buttigieg, pointing to the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (i.e., Mega) grants and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or INFRA, grants. “Our INFRA and Mega programs are helping build the cathedrals of American infrastructure: truly transformative projects that will change entire regions and our entire country for the better.”
Projects benefiting from this round of IIJA funding included $1 billion for the Blatnik Bridge Replacement Project in Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis.
“The [project’s] updates will help prevent fatalities and serious injuries that are seven to 10 times higher than the state averages, and improve employment access for approximately 6,000 daily commuters,” according to DOT’s background about the project.
Biden speaks with iron workers and others near the John A. Blatnik Bridge between Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., Jan. 25. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
Another grant recipient is the $371 million Sagamore Bridge project designed to restore and modernize the nearly 90-year-old Sagamore Bridge in Cape Cod, Mass. DOT explained: “Replacing the bridge will ensure the infrastructure meets modern structural design criteria, including consideration of climate change, seismic effects and safety benefits.”
Week Ahead (all times EST):
Jan. 30, 10 a.m.: The House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Menace on the Red Sea: Securing Shipping Against Threats in the Red Sea.” (Watch live)
Jan. 31, 10 a.m.: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets for a hearing titled, “Avoiding, Detecting and Capturing Methane Emissions from Landfills.”
Dude, where’s my car as well as my parking spot for my truck? DOT continues to come up with an answer.
The Federal Highway Administration on Jan. 23 announced $729.4 million in funding to 34 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The funds are directed at repairs following natural disasters and extreme weather, such as hurricanes, flooding and mudslides. The funds stem from FHWA’s emergency relief. “As the climate crisis accelerates, more Americans are feeling the consequences in the form of extreme weather that devastates communities and destroys vital infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “These funds will help restore critical transportation connections across the country as communities continue to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by extreme weather.”
“Climate change is devastating communities across the U.S., in every state. Our transportation system was not designed to handle the climate impacts we are seeing in the 21st century,” added FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Since January 2022, FHWA has distributed over $1.3 billion in emergency relief dollars to help states make repairs because of climate-related events. The bipartisan infrastructure law is providing new programs and funding opportunities to help our transportation system be more resilient to climate change and get people and goods where they need to go safely.”
On Jan. 23, the Senate confirmed Christopher Koos, Anthony Coscia and Joel Szabat to Amtrak’s board of directors. “I applaud today’s confirmations of [Normal, Ill.] Mayor Christopher Koos, Anthony Coscia and Joel Szabat and look forward to the work they will do to enhance the passenger experience and improve reliability,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said soon after their confirmation in the Senate. “Amtrak’s service is essential for travelers all across the country and provides an economic boost to the rural and urban communities it serves, including along the Amtrak Cascades, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight in the Pacific Northwest.”
“As travel continues to rebound, the bipartisan infrastructure law’s investments will allow Amtrak to purchase new railcars, improve stations and upgrade tracks,” the senator, chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, continued. “The new board members will help ensure these investments are spent wisely and benefit the entire nation.”
Another edition of: Point/Counterpoint. As a famous baseball manager once observed, it’s déjà vu all over again.
X Marks the Spot
As they say in Washington, bringing home the bacon.
The @USDA should have a voice in protecting our nation’s infrastructure.
Protecting our agriculture industry and food supply is critical to America’s security, and our legislation addresses current vulnerabilities. https://t.co/EtAgmswBhX — Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 26, 2024
Keeping our government funded and functioning is a fundamental responsibility of Congress.
Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) on Jan. 18.Image
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