Hops & Highways S2 E7: Implementation of the Infrastructure Bill & Focus on Bridge Repair

Now that President Biden has signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs act into law, the hard work really begins.Take 10 minutes to hear Jess & Dormie talk about the implementation of the bill and the bridge projects that might be funded

Now that President Biden has signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs act into law, the hard work really begins. Take 10 minutes to hear Jess & Dormie talk about the implementation of the bill and the bridge projects that might be funded with this legislation.

J: Now that President Biden has signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs act into law, the hard work really begins. If you've read the text of the infrastructure legislation and wondered why there aren't more specifics about what exactly it will do, that's because the package, by design, didn't include specific projects. The IIJ infrastructure investment and jobs actA will however deliver generational transportation investments, with nearly 90 percent of the resources for roads and bridges distributed by formula directly to the states. States, perhaps, are busy dusting off those much-needed projects for which they had no funding, and figuring out how to apply for their cut of the $550 billion in total new spending and implementing the law will be no easy task.

D: During a bipartisan signing ceremony on Monday, President Biden appointed former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for coordinating implementation of the historic bipartisan infrastructure law. In this role, The White House says Landrieu will work with a team of independent experts to verify that it creates good jobs, boosts the nation’s global economic competitiveness, strengthens supply chains, and acts against inflation. He’s got a big job ahead of him and let’s cheers to him!

:::WE DRINK:::

J: A lot of the country is anxious to see what this legislation is going to do but it's important to understand that the infrastructure investment and jobs act is not a stimulus bill designed to give an immediate boost to the economy. The package was designed as a longer-term patient approach to rebuilding American competitiveness through infrastructure. This means it’s going to be a busy few months inside Washington and across the country as infrastructure investment and jobs act implementation begins and Federal agencies, like the Departments of Transportation and Energy, figure out how to implement the law. They will need to figure out how to create these new programs and find safe ways to quickly get money out the door.

D: This will require internal planning, internal and public review, hiring staff and building knowledge resources to stand-up to these new operations—all before any services like grant agreements and technical expertise are produced. Ed Mortimer, vice president for transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this week that the process was going to take some time because “quote” we have to get it right. “Unquote” Officials want to make sure the investments are being used on the proper projects, that investments are being made in the right way and that the American people will see the benefits. 

J: According to the Brookings Institute, states will bear an even bigger burden than that of Federal agencies. As the owners and operators of most infrastructure, they must design and build new assets, hire more workers, and even mobilize their own financial resources to meet these Federal investments. They need to ensure their operations are ready to handle the influx of new federal funding and that means getting the people and processes in place to do so. No easy task given the job market right now. All this means that projects simply cannot and will not happen overnight. The pace at which federal funds reach different places nationally depends on the types of projects pursued and the types of programs channeling resources to these projects. So be patient but this bill is going to be transformative for our country and let’s drink to that!

:::WE DRINK:::

D: So over the next few weeks as we learn more about all the things that are in this legislation, we’re going to be sharing some deep dive information with you. This week, we’re going to focus on bridges and the major impact the IIJA will have on them. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) there are at least 

46 thousand,154 bridges in the U.S. that are ‘structurally deficient’ and 231 thousand still need repair and preservation work. 

J:  Not only do bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles, they also are a nightmare for potential supply chain issues. 

Take closure of the I-40 Hernando DeSoto bridge as just one example. When this bridge closed in May of 2021 due to a cracked beam, over-the-road truckers had to take alternate routes, adding about eight-minutes to their drive. Those additional minutes and miles on the detour added a daily cost to the trucking industry of $2.4 million per day, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

D: In a society struggling with supply chain issues, the passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act could not come at a better time. The legislation will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years, building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year. 

J: The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes around $16 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities. Let’s cheers to that!

:::WE DRINK:::

D: When discussing the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, President Joe Biden promised to fix the 10 most "economically significant" bridges in need of reconstruction and repair 10,000 additional smaller bridges as well. As a result, the Bridge Investment Act, was signed into law by President Biden at the same time he signed the IIJA.

J: The final bill includes provisions that will Provide $12.5 billion to fund the Bridge Investment Act, which establishes a bridge investment program to award competitive grants to certain governmental entities for projects that improve the condition of bridges as well as the safety, efficiency and reliability of the movement of people and freight over bridges;]. The bill also requires a strong Buy America rules, requiring all projects funded by the grants to use American-made steel and iron;

D: It also ensures that a transportation bill could rehabilitate or replace bridges of all sizes, including nationally significant large bridges, like the Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky;

J: It will create an innovative evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure the fair and efficient allocation of federal funding and provide quick grants for small bridge projects and allow projects to be bundled into a single application to cut down on red tape and accelerate repairs;

D: Finally, it will allow entities of all sizes and scope to apply for funding, including: states, counties, cities, metropolitan planning organizations, special purpose districts, public authorities with transportation functions, federal land management agencies and Indian tribes. 

J: The bipartisan infrastructure legislation also includes a new formula grant program for states dedicated to providing further funding to our nation’s bridges. Over the next five years, this formula grant program will provide $27.5 billion over the next five years toward further rehabilitation, repair, and replacement of our nation’s bridges.

D: Like we said, as we learn more about the bill and the specific projects that will come from it, we will keep you guys updated on what this is going to mean for you all and the work you do every day. If you have specific questions or comments, be sure to reach out and let us know.