On Saturday (6 November), the U.S Congress passed a $1.2 trillion bill to repair and upgrade America’s ageing infrastructure.
Touted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Infrastructure deal aims to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet and tackle the climate crisis.
According to some estimates, the plan will add an average of 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
It must be noted that the entire plan includes both investments in making new infrastructure and spending on maintenance of existing infrastructure. Thus around half of it will be utilised for maintenance, leaving the investments on the creation of new infrastructure around $ 550 billion.
Here are some details about this legislation, which is described by President Joe Biden as a monumental step forward.
Providing Clean Drinking Water And High-Speed Internet
Currently, up to 10 million households and over four lakh schools/child care centres in the USA lack safe drinking water. The Infrastructure Deal plans to invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centres across the country.
More than 30 million Americans live in areas without a broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. Also, the United States has the second-highest broadband costs.
Biden’s Infrastructure Deal has allocated $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to high-speed internet. The legislation will also help lower prices for internet service and help close the digital divide so that more Americans can afford internet access.
Road, Rail And Bridges
In the United States, one in five miles of highways and major roads, and 45,000 bridges, are in poor condition. The legislation authorises surface transportation programs for five years and invests $110 billion in additional funding to repair roads and bridges.
The legislation also includes the first-ever Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities.
The mega infra plan recognises that the U.S. passenger rail lags behind the rest of the world in reliability, speed, and coverage. It further compared the country's rail infrastructure with China, which already has 22,000 miles of high-speed rail and is planning to double that by 2035.
The legislation planned a $66 billion funding to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernise the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. This plan is the biggest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation, 50 years ago.
Also, thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in the U.S need replacement. Thus the legislation includes $39 billion of new investment to modernize public transportation infrastructure which includes replacing old vehicles with zero-emission buses.
Airports And Ports To Strengthen Supply Chains
According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. The legislation invests $25 billion in airports. Also, it plans an investment of $17 billion in port infrastructure and waterways.
This funding aims to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies.
EV Charging Stations And Expanding Power Grid
President Biden’s infrastructure plan recognises that the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales are only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market and claims that this needs to change.
Thus the legislation plans to invest $7.5 billion to build a national network of EV chargers in the United States. This investment will support the US President’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers.
In addition, the plan envisages a $65 billion investment to build new transmission lines and accelerate the transition to a zero-emission economy by funding new programs to support the deployment of cutting-edge clean energy technologies.
Climate Change, Cyber Threats And Legacy Pollution
Besides the allocation for various infrastructure sectors, President Biden’s plan focused on the effects of climate change and new-age threats to infrastructure like cyber attacks. The plan aims to spend $50 billion to tackle the new-age problems.
Another area of focus for the plan is tackling legacy pollution that affects public health. Under this, the bill will invest $21 billion to clean up former industrial and energy sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells.
According to USA Today, President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan would direct nearly $550 billion in new spending over five years and the remaining $650 billion would come from existing levies, such as the gas tax.
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