Biden signs $1.2 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill into law

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President Biden signing the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill (source whitehouse.gov)

President Biden’s signing of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15 sets the stage for multi-year (and generational) improvements in public works and environmental spending — with plenty of opportunities for the AEC industry locally and nationally.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed out of the Senate in August and the House earlier in November, adds $559 billion to the federal government’s average annual investment of $650 billion and addresses public policy priorities for surface transportation reauthorization, water resiliency, and emergency management, the American Public Works Association (APWA) said in an earlier statement.

Local contractors that build roads, bridges and other infrastructure are counting on a increase in business from the massive spending bill, which is expected to deliver $17 billion or more to Illinois for big construction projects, Crain’s Chicago Business has reported. “Coupled with the state’s $45 billion Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan approved in 2019, the package could keep companies  . . . and thousands of construction workers—busy for several years.”

“We anticipate that with Rebuild Illinois, (the federal package) will allow a lot of projects in the Chicago area and statewide to be accelerated,” said Kevin Burke, executive vice-president of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. Without Rebuild Illinois, the state would not have much funding available match federal dollars for big public works projects, he said.

Governors across the nation — both Republican and Democrat — are enthusiastic about the legislation.

“On behalf of the National Governors Association, we applaud the President’s signing of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which passed out of the Senate in August and the House earlier this month,” National Governors Association (NGA) Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and vice-chairman Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey said in a statement.

“Governors commend Congress for setting aside partisan differences to pass a bill that works for the American people. States and territories stand ready to immediately put these funds to good use to fix and improve our nation’s infrastructure.”

The infrastructure funding includes provisions:

  • Reauthorizing the primary federal aid highway programs increases overall spending $273.2 billion over five years,
  • Codifying elements of the “one federal decision” policy to require agencies to coordinate reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects and set a goal for completing environmental reviews within two years,
  • $11 billion for road safety,
  • $7.3 billion for the new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program to make infrastructure more resilient to storms and natural disasters,
  • $55 billion towards water and wastewater infrastructure,
  • $5 billion to the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water grant program to deal with emerging contaminants,
  • $1 billion in grant program (FY2022 through FY2025) to help states, tribal or multistate governments address cybersecurity threats, and
  • $3.5 billion for the National Flood Insurance Fund for flood mitigation assistance.

Speakers at an industry conference in New York City on Nov. 16 described “that it feels like Christmas morning” with the infrastructure funding, which is expected to create thousands of jobs and many opportunities for architects, engineers and contractors throughout the nation.

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